Parents, beware! The groomers are out there

Many of us have watched wildlife documentaries allowing us to see exotic wild animals like elephants and hippos caring for their young.  What we soon discover as we watch these videos is that dangers lurk on the periphery of these scenes.  A crocodile attacks a young hippo in one scene, and a lion attacks a baby elephant that strays too far from parental protection.  These videos remind us that we live in a very dangerous world.

We humans go to extraordinary lengths to protect our young.  We build homes to protect them from the elements.  We inoculate them to protect them from common diseases.  We buy them climate-appropriate clothing to protect their bodies.  As social and sentient animals, we have identified and eliminated many dangers threatening our young.  Try as we might to protect our young, however, dangers remain.

In the summer of 1993, I was hired to teach public school in America's mid-Atlantic region.  As I attended new-teacher orientation, the presenters gave us the latest dos and don'ts of teaching.  As they oriented us, we discovered that my school system was embroiled in a scandal where teachers were accused of sexually abusing students.  Several teachers were accused, one teacher went to jail, several administrators were reassigned, and the superintendent resigned before this scandal faded out of sight.  It was quite a mess, and we were told as new teachers to report anything that had an untoward aroma.

Image: Teacher in classroom by Taylor Wilcox.  Unsplash license.

We send our children to schools to get an education, and we expect them to learn in a safe place.  A study by the U.S. Department of Education (2004), however, revealed that nearly ten percent of students report that they were sexually abused in some way by a teacher, administrator, or school employee.  According to the U.S. Census, there were 77 million students in public schools in America in 2018.  If we apply the former ratio to 77 million, does that mean that over seven million of our public-school students have been sexually abused?  I fear that the number is larger because shame and embarrassment tend to discourage victims from reporting abuse.

I do not want to pick on public education as the only place where this happens.  The sad truth is that any endeavor that serves our young creates tempting moments for the adults who work with them.  Scour news sites, newspapers, and magazines, and you will find accounts of the clergy, doctors, coaches, teachers, babysitters, uncles, aunts, and even parents who give in to the temptation of sexually abusing children and young adults.

If there were ever an occasion when zero-tolerance policies were needed, it is called for when confronting sexual abuse against children.  Sadly, institutions like the church, schools, and the Boy Scouts tend to side with the crocodiles and the lions against the immature hippos and elephants.

In this woke era challenging our culture, the predators who want to abuse children are getting bolder.  Legislators in California are trying to lower the age for statutory rape.  Professors are trying to remove words like "pedophile" from our lexicon and replace them with "minor attracted person."

When I was in public school, two different male teachers tried to groom me.  When this wickedness happens in churches, it undercuts the Gospel in our time.  The predators are out there masquerading as helpers.

Parents beware!

Ned Cosby's new novel OUTCRY is a love story exposing the refusal of Christian leaders to discipline clergy who sexually abuse our young people. This work of fiction addresses crimes that are all too real.  He has also written RECOLLECTIONS FROM MY FATHER'S HOUSE, tracing his own odyssey from 1954 to the present.  For more info, visit

If you experience technical problems, please write to