"Eight years ago when my first daughter was born, my husband and I had a conversation," starts Kasey Edwards, an Australian mother of two in a segment on The Project. The conversation she's speaking of was one she says was "based on horrifying statistics based on the risk of child sexual abuse caused by known men," and ended in a mutual decision that it was "easier and safer" to have a rule that no man, including the children's grandfathers, babysit them alone. Ever.
Now. Of course thinking about your child and any potential risk of sexual assault is frightening and could make you want to take some sort of action. In the US alone, statistics show that one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. These are facts that should certainly not be downplayed. However, something about Edwards's attitude rubs me the wrong way.
"I don't want to think of anyone in my family or any friend and question whether or not they could be a potential sex offender," Edwards continues. "So if we just have a blanket rule, then we're safe."
As much as we'd like to protect our children from any form of harm or hurt, I take issue with her reasoning. What about the women her children come in contact with that could be potential sex offenders? Although I don't personally feel that life can be lived fully while constantly looking left and right for something that could possibly go wrong, even if you are that type of person, like Edwards, how could you only look at one gender as a risk?
Again, I understand part of her rationale. A 2003 National Institute of Justice report found that three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted in the US were victimized by someone they knew well, and it has been found that men are more commonly the perpetrators. But, Edwards is going so far here as to say that she cannot under any circumstances rule out her own father as a sex offender — so why is it so easy for her to trust a female school employee or another child's mother who she doesn't know as well as she knows her own family and friends?
Her interview on The Project — which is in response to an article she wrote that outlined her ideology — continues, as she answers the question, "What happens with school and daycare — can you control those spaces?" Edwards responds, "My daughter has a lovely male teacher at her Kindergarten and she adores him and we adore him, and the childcare center is so well run — it's got processes and structures in place — that we don't even have to think about the safety of that situation."
This brings on my second round of confusion: does she not "adore" and trust her own family and friends as much — or more — as she does this man (who was a stranger before her daughter entered Kindergarten) to feel safe enough for them to babysit?
As her interview wraps up, Edwards is asked, "Is there anything in your history that has prompted this action?" Her reply, which doesn't exactly answer the question, included, "I know how lovely, gorgeous men in public who would never hurt a fly can be monsters in private and I'm not prepared to take that risk with my children."
She's right. These are her children, it's her choice — that is true of every parent's unique situation. So if this is right for her, then this is right for her. However, I was basically raised in my elementary years by my own grandfather and I could never imagine not letting my sweet father be alone his own grandchild. So we'll just have to agree to disagree.