Snuffy, or the big hairy elephant in the room…
Remember Sesame Street? It’s all over the news now again thanks to the Presidential Elections. I was at Starbucks the other day, and the lady in front of me in line was making a reference to Sesame Street and Big Bird. Then she said something about Snuffy being invisible. I pointed out that they made him visible to the adults in the end. She said really, Why? I said it was something to do with the producers of the show wanting him to be visible because they were worried about pedophilia and kids not being believed. She said that sounded silly, and that pedophilia wasn’t that big a deal. Certainly not big enough to make a whole change on the show. I wanted to point out that it was probably a big deal to the 1 in 5 kids that’s a victim of child abuse, but instead I just grabbed my latte and thought about how little people care about issues that affect so many people. How swept under the carpet that child abuse is. How so many people just think because it didn’t hapen to them, that it’s not a big deal. About how basic human rights are like oxygen, it’s not a big deal until you’re not getting any.
As a kid, all the campaigns were focused on “Stranger Danger”. Kids were taught not to accept lollies from creepy men in cars. We shouldn’t talk to men in trenchcoats in the park. We shouldn’t believe someone who says Mum or Dad came to pick us up. They never taught kids what to do when someone in the own family was the creepy man hurting them… Nobody wants to face the fact that someone in their own family may be an abuser. People will just say, Oh don’t worry anout Uncle Fred. He’s just affectionate. Uncle Tom is just a bit handsy. Uncle Peter just likes to play tickle games. Kids aren’t told that when they go to family functions they have the option of NOT hugging their Uncle, or their cousin, or that family friend they don’t like for some reason. They’re told to sit on their lap for a family photo. When a child protests, they’re passed off as being grunpy or silly. The adults don’t want to listen. Which teaches the kids that the adults are allowed to do whatever they want to them. Because the adults don’t want to believe, and even if they do, it’s not polite to say anything. Which just makes the abuser bolder, while making the kids weaker.
TWO out of three child abuse survivors who contacted a helpline were harmed by a member of their immediate family, with just 2 per cent hurt by a stranger, research shows. A further one in four victims was harmed by a member of their extended family, one in eight by a family friend and one in 10 by a member of a religious group. Teachers were responsible for 5 per cent of child abuse, the research found. It is estimated between four and five million Australian adults are survivors of childhood trauma. Here’s the link to the News.com.au article.