It's estimated that one out of ten children will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen. Over a third of children are abused by family members, and two thirds are abused by someone familiar whom the family trusts. A third of child victims are under the age of eleven and nearly forty percent are abused by older children. Later in life, those who have been molested have higher rates of drug and alcohol use, suicidal thoughts, teen pregnancy, and eating disorders. We can't begin to estimate the emotional, psychological, and spiritual battle these children face. There is one thing that reduces the impact of the consequences of abuse - when a child can talk about it with others and be believed.
How do we talk about this danger that's so explicit with our children who are so innocent? This year I became a father and experienced for the first time that sense of protection that comes to a parent. I want to be able to speak with my daughter and give her an opportunity to be open, without giving her unnecessary fear or premature worldly knowledge. My own father sat down with me when I was in grade school and read a real life Christian story about the dangers of prostitution, pimps, beasteality, pornography, and other dangers. I learned what those terms meant and the value of staying clear of that part of our society, but I was already at an age where many of those dangers could have affected me as a younger child.
This is where A Bag of Secrets can offer parents the resource to speak with their younger children in a general way about the need to not harbor secrets, but be free of burdens. The short film was produced by myself and my wife from the Bend ICOC. The children's book was written by Rich Hackett and illustrated by Daniel Lauterbach from the Eugene ICOC. As disciples, we combined our talents with the desire to give God's kingdom another resource to protect our children. There's so much that the world is always trying to teach our children. As parents, let's give our children a chance to be open and free of burdens.
"Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. And the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." - Matthew 19:13-14
For more information about how to have a heart to heart with your children and make the best use of the children's book visit the Bag of Secrets book website. Though the video may inspire some thoughts on secrets not worth keeping, children will need a deeper reassurance with a trusted loved one who can navigate a child's questions. When considering a conversation with your child, remember Jesus' words of encouraging children to come to us and not hindering them. As Jesus did, let's pray for our children and the children in our community.