With My Daughter Emma at Dinner in Memphis, TN. She's better at listening than me.

Listening Is A Powerful Safeguard Against Child Predators

Listening is where love begins.” Mr. Rogers

There was a story in The New York Times yesterday by Rachael Denhollander, the woman who filed the first police complaint against Larry Nassar for sexual assault. Rachael is an attorney now. She was thoroughly prepared, legally speaking, for the fight. Along with her report she submitted medical records, medical journals, her journal from the time period she was abused, and a letter from a district attorney vouching for her character. Nevertheless, she was victimized all over again by her community and friends who questioned her motives.

Rachael shared a bitter truth in her story, saying, “In may ways, the sexual assault scandal that was 30 years in the making was only a symbol of a much bigger cultural problem — the unwillingness to speak the truth against one’s own community.” We all know how true this is. 

What happened to Rachael, to many of the women in the #MeToo movement, and to the women who’ve accused Donald Trump of sexual assault is also a result of our interpreting power as truth and making money the holy grail.

In the case of Dr. Nassar, his power as a longstanding physician with the US Olympic Team and Michigan State University made his predation possible. In the case of Donald Trump, power and money are at play. And money seems to be the biggest factor now. Republican’s have enabled President Trump in their quest to maintain power and legislate a new tax code. 

I think the #MeToo movement will affect permanent and positive change, and Donald Trump can’t be president forever. However, the Larry Nassars of the world float beneath the surface. Their abuse will persist unless we listen to our children and help them feel safe talking to us. This is more important than anything a community can do to protect them from predators because they are so hard to spot.

I could have done a better job slowing down to listen well to my children. We live in a very busy world, but we don’t have to be as busy as we are. If we want to keep our children safe, they need to feel safe with us. Listening is one of the most powerful tools we have as parents to help our children trust us. 

Bad things are going to happen. It’s inevitable. It’s how we prepare our children and respond in a crisis that counts.