In the world of child welfare and social work, a lot of bad, sad, scary things come across my desk. I also see the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse happening day after day. Because parents who hurt their children are usually hurt themselves. And teenagers who sexually abuse younger children are usually sexually abused themselves. And parents who drop out of school in 8th grade and couch hop for the rest of their lives don’t know how to teach their children about stable housing . Bad, sad, scary things do not happen in a vacuum. People just do not make bad, hurtful, harmful or violent choices because they want to. There is always a bigger picture. And I am not saying we have to take all the responsibility off of the person who made a bad choice, but we have to look at the big picture.
And what I have noticed in my 18 years of being a social worker is that we, as human beings, like to place blame. We like to find fault and I think this is because it takes responsibility off of us and it distances us from all the bad/sad/scaries in the world. I mean, I make good choices, so something bad could never happen to me right? My kids wont do drugs, or have sex, or get kicked out of school, because only “bad” kids do that. So if we blame others, we can protect ourselves.
And this stuff gets political too. We dehumanize people in prison and those on welfare because then it justifies us not helping. “Why should MY tax dollars help someone who can’t get a job”. “It’s their own fault they are in jail, they know prostitution is illegal”.
All this is really skirting around a bigger issue I keep thinking about and wanting to address. But it has been addressed so much in the past few weeks, just not the way I want it to be. Are you ready? Josh Duggar. A few disclaimers first:. I do not know him. I know NOTHING about this family except they have lots of kids, are on tv and have very negative feelings about gay marriage. And the only reason I know that is through the media, which only presents what they want me to see and know.
So I am actually not going to talk about Josh Duggar, I am going to talk about the response to Josh Duggar. I will admit, I was almost giddy to see the perfect “Christian” family have a skeleton in their closet. I was horrified with those standing by him and happy to see him condemned. But the more I read, the more I realized none of this was really about Josh or the siblings that were hurt. This was about pro Duggars and anti-Duggars. This was about those who love the Duggars defending themselves (Not Josh) and those who do not like the Duggars saying “See, I told you so! No one is perfect!”
But, in my opinion, the real issue is being ignored. The real issue is that a teenage boy had something happen to him; some experience, some belief, that triggered this behavior. Cause remember what I said earlier about abuse not happening in a vacuum? People just don’t wake up one day and say “I am going to sexually abuse my sisters”. Somewhere, at some point, through parenting, through personal experience, through learned behavior, through exposure to sexually deviant experiences, though poorly developed coping mechanisms… this boy (likely subconsciously) decided this was something he could do.
What the issue is really about is 5 girls who have gone through trauma. Trauma that will stay with them for the rest of their life and it doesn’t matter that there was forgiveness and support, this will always be with them. And despite all the healing that could possibly happen, these girls are now, and always will be, survivors of sexual abuse.
What the issue is really about, is that sexual abuse happens. And it happens to poor and rich; black and white; Christian and Atheist. It happens in families, schools, communities and cultures. It happens every day. It happens to boys and girls, children and adults.
And what we are doing, right now, is dividing ourselves into pro and con Duggar camps. What we should be doing is recognizing the greater issue at hand and work towards a solution. How can we keep children safe? How can we stop the cycle of abuse? How can we take the attention away from the drama and back on the root of the problem. Children deserve to be safe. Children need a voice. And gossiping about a person that we don’t know is not going to get us any closer to a solution.