Something Doesn't Feel Right about 'It Doesn't Feel Right'

More than 300,000 children a year are sexually abused in the US, according to the Massachusetts-based organization Stop It Now! The organization's website says one in three girls and one in seven boys under the age of 17 fall victim to this horror every year, and very likely in the hands of someone they and their families know and respect.

For the past 10 years, Stop It Now! has been working to redress what it calls a "public health epidemic" by making information available and inviting all adults to take responsibility for solving this problem through education and prevention.

However, this organization is taking the idea of responsibility to an unhealthy new level in Virginia, where it is running an awareness campaign with the slogan: "It Doesn't Feel Right When I see Them Together." That is, when you see an adult and a child together, if you're instincts tell you something "is not right," then you should call 1-888-PREVENT and speak to a sex abuse expert.

That expert will listen to you discuss your observations and give advice on what can be done to keep the child safe and determine if there's enough evidence to report the adult as a possible offender.

Rebecca Odor, who directs the sexual and domestic violence prevention division for Virginia's Department of Health that is paying for this campaign, says officials hope to reach people who might feel uncomfortable reporting a relative or acquaintance to law enforcers. "We want to teach them to trust their instinct and, if it doesn't feel right, take action," Odor says.

The campaign's ad of a little girl holding a man's hand--an innocent image, to be sure--made me so uncomfortable that I made my way to the Stop It Now! site to see what it's all about. It bothers me that innocent people can suffer in the hands of meddlesome or ill-intentioned people. I have witnessed a fair few ugly divorces and have seen ugly things happen in terms of lies and false accusations. On the other hand, I can think of four adults in my own life whose lives were shattered by childhood sex abuse by trusted adults.

At Stop it Now! I found a wealth of wonderful information, including descriptions of signs of abuse, resources for victims of abuse and for abusers, statistics, recovery stories, and more.

It's a good and useful site, even if the ad this organization has created for this campaign encourages witch-hunting.
The campaign begs us to look at everyone as a potential predator and a threat to our children. That's not healthy. It seems to me somewhere between public education and pervasive paranoia there must be some reasonable information. Ironically, the ad campaign itself got me there--Stop it Now!

See also: Death and the Maiden review
See also: Pedophiles Play on our Sense of Trust


  1. Anonymous7:16 AM

    Even if someone was reported to the Department of Children and Family Services, it's still tricky. Not everyone instincts are good; not everyone's intentions are good. This has the potential to call into question people who do no such thing or have no such intention.


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