Updated: Mar 2
How does an adult groom a child he is sexually attracted to? First, the predator knows the process takes time and repetition. He chooses his target let’s say, a 1st grader, a typical 7 year old. He begins by making the child feel special – giving praise and attention.
By 2nd grade (age 8), the predator will be a familiar presence in the child’s life. Enough that casually touching the child in the presence of his/her parents causes the child to think, "This person touching me is okay with Mom and Dad." It isn’t sexual in the beginning -- it can be as simple as draping an arm over the shoulder or getting a goodbye-hug.
By 5th grade (age 10), the predator convinces the child, he or she can choose for themselves what they want to do. The predator purports to be someone the child can trust with feelings, secrets or desires they might be embarrassed to tell Mom and Dad.
By 7th grade (age 12), the first physical contact is often nonsexual, like an “accidental” bump or rub, rubbing the shoulders, or brushing their hair. These are innocuous enough to desensitize the child. A child’s natural curiosity about sex can be exploited by “dirty” jokes, access to pornography or playing sexual games.
By 9th grade (age 14), the predator has become a sympathetic listener when parents, friends and others disappoint the child. Some predators provide drugs, alcohol or a “place to hang out” unsupervised. They share secrets with the child, to encourage the belief that the child is trusted as a peer and above all others. The predator acts a protector, expressing outrage or empathy when bad things happen, and inserting themselves between the child and the parent.
Eventually, the predator asks for something in return for he has done -- typically the giving or receiving of a sexual act. The child’s biological response and chemical reward system with hardwire the desire to repeat the “pleasure” of the experience. Revulsion, disgust and fear actually amplify the dopamine blast, causing neural imprinting, and creating a strong bond between victim and perpetrator.
It’s horrifyingly insidious to contemplate, isn’t it?
What if I told you, that exact pattern of grooming is what the Health Education Framework recommends? You might think I was exaggerating, but I'm not.
Let me give you just one example. Adolescence is the epitome of poor impulse control, so “consenting” is their default behavior! Which means they have a genuine need to learn refusal skills if they are going resist acting on every impulse. Especially since delayed gratification is a key indicator of positive life outcomes (relational, financial, educational, occupational and all forms of health.) As it happens, however, the new guidelines have replaced what were called “refusal skills” with “consent.”
The Health Education Framework suggests "age-appropriate" sexual health lessons should progressively teach "consent" like this…
1st grade: children are taught to “consent” to high-fives and hugs.
2nd grade: children reflect on “how comfortable they feel” with hugging and kissing.
5th grade: children are taught they can define their own boundaries -- meaning what kind of touching they are “willing to consent to.”
7th grade: children are taught how to ask for consent to sex and how to give or refuse consent
9th grade: students are given assignments to ensure they know where to get tested for STI/HIV and pregnancy, where to obtain contraceptives, trans-gender hormone therapy and what programs are available to pay for these medical services. They research California laws regarding minors’ access to reproductive health care, including the right to excuse themselves from campus to obtain confidential medical services without parental permission or notification.
See the pattern? Consent to non-sexual touching, leads to discussions about the normalcy of touching, which evolves into the what they "want to consent to," followed by learning how to ask for sex, and eventually exploring all the resources to facilitate sexual behavior, including how to act on those impulses without parental interference.
If a child engages in these types of school lessons, how would they be able to differentiate between a teacher who is providing “health instruction” and a predator who is grooming them?
Don’t get me wrong, Positively Waiting! wants children to have a healthy attitude toward sexual activity within the safest possible context! But the safest possible context to us means:
When their prefrontal cortex has matured enough to understand the long term consequences of every sexual decision,
When there is little risk of sexually transmitted infections,
When a pregnancy would be a joyful and welcome event,
When their sexual behavior won’t harm another person’s chance for relational success,
When sex can be enjoyed guilt-free and ghost-free.
None of those safety rails are in the new policy outline. What's worse, is that parents who are trying to voice their concerns are being sidelined, obstructed and silenced.