Advice: Be warned that anyone can be a sexual predator

MARIA LUISA SALCINES | SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR

“Leaving Neverland,” HBO’s documentary in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck detail the sexual abuse they say they suffered from Michael Jackson when they were young will turn your stomach. The two men were convincing.

It was heart-wrenching watching these men give explicit detail about what their experiences, and to know that the alleged abuse has affected their lives.
Both men said they are in therapy and working on forgiving their mothers for not protecting them as children.

Their families were allegedly seduced and groomed by Jackson, who was one of the biggest stars in the world. Both respective mothers loved Jackson and never imagined that Jackson would hurt their children.

As a mother, however, it’s difficult for me to comprehend how these women didn’t think it was inappropriate for their sons, who were 7 and 10 at the time, to allegedly sleep in the same bed as Jackson.

Jackson is accused of becoming friends with the parents, fooling them into thinking he was trustworthy. His home was filled with toys and video games. He is portrayed as someone who didn’t have adult friends, but would befriend and hang out with little boys. All of these are red flags.

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the accusers aired after Part 2 of “Leaving Neverland.”

She began her interview by saying, “This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption that’s like a scourge on humanity. And it’s happening right now. It’s happening in families — we know it’s happening in churches, and in schools, and sports teams everywhere. So if it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then some good would have come of it.”

The innocence of the child and inexperience makes them incapable of understanding that what is happening is wrong.

As we have seen in the news lately with Catholic priests and the Penn State and Syracuse scandals, child abusers hide behind positions of power, using their positions to seduce and manipulate their victims.

Robson and Safechuck were not paid for appearing in this documentary and like most victims are still learning to deal with what allegedly happen to them. Until they became dads themselves, they did not believe that Jackson had abused them.

As children, they said they idolized him and felt loved by him even repeatedly denying that he had ever done anything inappropriate with them.

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, according to www.childhelp.org.

All it takes is one incident of sexual abuse to destroy the innocence of a child and have damaging effects on them the rest of his or her life.

Protect your children and don’t be so trusting. It is better that people criticize you for being over-protective than it is for something to happen to your child.

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer and certified parent coach with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter at @PowerOfFamily on Instagram at @mlsalcines. You can also contact her on her blog FamilyLifeandFindingHappy.com.