Two different blog posts, http://talesfromthecrib.blogspot.com/2006/09/protecting-our-children.html, and http://www.daringyoungmom.com/index.php/2006/09/06/where-the-boys-are/#comments, have prompted this defensive post from TIM.
I won’t babysit, so don’t ask me. I made my mind up about this 20 years ago, when I witnessed the vilification of another man in our ward, an unmarried convert who liked to babysit for various families, with kids of every age. After many years of being the boon to Mormon couples in NYC who haven’t any money (he babysat for free), suddenly the word got out that he shouldn’t be allowed with one’s children. He was never accused, and no actual story was ever told of his sin or crime, but family after family stopped using his aid, and he suddenly moved away to Utah, quite heartbroken.
It turned out that he was a gay man, and had an active gay life before joining the Church. One might suggest that this should only have prevented him from watching the boys, not the girls, but then of course gay doesn’t mean pedophilic anyway. It just means sexually suspect, deviant, perverted, and bad.
There are real cases of molestation, of course, and rape. Bad things happen to children, teenagers and adults, and men are usually the perpetrators (though not always). And sexual molestation happens to little girls far more often than it happens to little boys. Usually the perpetrator is someone in the family, or very close to the family — much more rare that a stranger would molest a child, for fear of reprisal (hard to keep such a thing secret).
And yet our society continues to have huge hysteria about this. The giant success of the documentary Capturing the Friedmans only proves our frustration, on both sides.
Since I’m unmarried, with a gay preference, I have consciously chosen to turn down all babysitting requests, and I won’t teach in the nursery or primary either. This has had a ramification which I hadn’t considered: I’m thought selfish, someone who won’t lift a finger to help other families. I *am* self-absorbed, but I’m sad to realize that my choice to remain alone in the world makes me sexually suspect. I have no interest in sex with minors of any gender, but I must be careful, not just to keep my hands off, but to keep people from *talking* about the *potentiality* of what I *might* do to their child, when alone. Hence, I try never to be alone with someone else’s kids (and I have none of my own).
When it comes to kids coming over to my house, come on! My house is kid friendly, and I have every Disney DVD available. Be sure to bring your parents.