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to wonder how many women there are out there abusing children, buut because of society's attitude that only men abuse, are never suspected?

(13 Posts)
wannaBe Tue 14-Jun-11 17:29:46

yep, thread inspired by many other threads, but actually I think is a genuine and relevant discussion.

Time and time and time again there are threads on here about men, how men abuse, how children should be protected from men because men are more likely to abuse, how people wouldn't ever leave their children with a man for fear he might abuse them, and so the points are made.

There have even been questions raised over a man that cuddles a child and whether it would be appropriate for a man to physically interact with a young child, etc.

These questions/suspicions are never made about women.

IMO nobody would ever question a female teacher being very tactile with children, but if a male teacher did it this would automatically arouse suspicion.

Women do abuse children. In fact doing some reading online it's estimated that women are responsible for up to 40% of sexual abuse against boys (less against girls), so although less prevalent certainly not a tiny minority as it seems some people think.

I don't actually think that we should habitually be viewing any one gender with suspicion. I think we need to be aware, but I genuinely do wonder whether people are as aware, or want to be aware that women can abuse as well, and whether people would be as quick to report a woman they thought was suspicious purely because it's not a man, or whether in fact most people wouldn't consider a woman to be capable of sexual abuse.

And as consequence, I do wonder whether there are women out there who are abusing children, and getting away with it by virtue of the fact they are women.

smudgethepuppydog Tue 14-Jun-11 17:35:42

^IMO nobody would ever question a female teacher being very tactile with children^

Really? In my experience, female workers who are overly tactile raise suspicisions too.

We all undergo child protection training at our school and everyone, male or feamle, is made aware that females are responsible for 25% of the sexually based abuse committed against children (rather than just boys). We are tactile with our children, we have to be as we do lots of Intensive Interaction and Sherbourne work so touch is unavoidable but what we hope to be is transparent in our work.

fuzzpigFriday Tue 14-Jun-11 17:40:44

I agree. The view is rife, everywhere.

My DH was horrifically abused for his first 15 years by his mother, but nothing was ever done. No, how could she be abusive, she's a lovely cuddly woman. hmm she's a district councillor now would you believe. angry

There is a lot of stigma around being abused by a woman, like it means you are weaker because you couldn't defend yourself against a female. It's not really surprising that DH had such low self confidence that he ended up in a marriage with an abusive woman for several years.

It is only in the last few years that he has really started to recover.

Algorta Tue 14-Jun-11 17:46:50

Surely it's partly mechanics, though. I'd have thought there'd be a limit to the gratification an adult woman could achieve from sexual contact with a young child. Mind you, I haven't thought long and hard about this and would rather not either so could be very wrong.

wannaBe Tue 14-Jun-11 17:50:03

smudge the thing though is that very few people undergo child protectin training.

If you're in a position of working with children then of course these statistics are made more clear. But the reality is that most parents don't come anywhere near to that kind of training, and the only knowledge they have of child abuse is what they read in the press and then assume based on what they read in the press, iyswim.

somethingwitty82 Tue 14-Jun-11 18:14:36

Was certainly not unknown when I was at boarding school for certain members of staff to give the girls an alternate education and for some reason parents would never ever believe this could be true because it was women

smudgethepuppydog Tue 14-Jun-11 18:16:41

But then we also need to get people away from the idea that those who are predisposed to sexually assaulting children somehow look dodgy. They don't. They look like any other person, they look like your friend or neighbour. They don't necessarily have eyebrows that meet in the middle nor wear a shifty look on their face. They often wheedle their way in by befriending adults long before they even begin to hurt children.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Tue 14-Jun-11 18:23:45

I think you're probably right, OP, it worries me too. Women can be just as predatory and twisted as men can. I think society places a greater trust in women than men and it's completely unfounded - a predator is a predator is a predator... confused

If anything, women have greater opportunity because of the immediate and often automatic suspicion where men and children are concerned. I'm thinking of teachers here specifically, but it could be any child/adult scenario where the child is at risk from a male or a female.

wannaBe Tue 14-Jun-11 18:29:00

oh absolutely, in fact it's almost always someone who is perceived as being "normal".

I underwent safe recruitment training recently (I am a governor) and one of the things that was said about people being accused of abuse is that there is almost always someone who is close to the abuser, a trusted person who says "but I've known them for x years, there's just no way they would/could do that," because it's often so implausible iyswim.

pumpernickel10 Tue 14-Jun-11 18:30:53

One example Vanessa George, loving family and children. She looked "normal" I don't think you can ever really know.
People trust women more as they are motherly but clearly they can be motherly and monsters

pumpernickel10 Tue 14-Jun-11 18:34:07

I think it's hard to conceive a woman actually doing this. When it came out about that George woman everyone was shocked as she's a mother. How could a mother do such things, but also how could a father do it too. You can not tell.

smudgethepuppydog Tue 14-Jun-11 18:51:34

I think there are a fair few female enablers and groomers, what better way to access small children than to have a lovely motherly woman take a child under their wing?

fuzzpigFriday Tue 14-Jun-11 19:55:06

Algorta... Your view is quite common and completely understandable - I remember my friends discussing the lead singer from a band who was sexually abused by his mother, and my friends laughing because they thought that was impossible. It isn't at all though. People often think sexual abuse = rape but there is a lot more to it than that.

It's not just about physical gratification anyway, it's the power. I actually think that the rape assumption is part of the reason that (a) people don't see that women can be abusers and (b) lots of abuse victims don't come forward.

I was sexually abused by my uncle as a child, and I felt a lot of guilt for struggling with it - because it wasn't rape or anything near it. It was barely anything compared to what some (including DH) went through, but it's still abuse. I still felt like I was 'making a fuss over nothing' but DH helped me see that I wasn't.

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