SOCIETY’S HIDDEN SECRET: SEX ABUSE Sex –Predators Cross all Boundaries – Relational, Religious, Cultural And Professional


By Dr. Bikkar Singh Lalli,

Given the opportunity even the “Rishies and Munnies (Holy Men) succumb to the temptation and lure of lust”, said my totally unlettered grand-father. He further added that “when they are young and are alone, even closely related individuals can indulge in sinful activities.”

Indeed there is some weight and truth in the wise man’s concerns.

While watching the football game between Penn State and Nebraska  on Saturday, I was feeling sorry for the fired coach, Joe Paterno, of Nitnay Lions. What happened at Penn State campus, reminded me of the assertion by my grandfather and I vividly recalled a disgusting happening which my class fellow at D.A.V. College Jalandhar described to me. He was giving private Math lessons to a girl studying in grade 10. One day that girl started crying and told him that her father was sexually abusing her. That incident of the violation of innocence of a helpless girl by her own father reminded me of several other similar episodes of sadistic nature. One of the prominent cases was that of World Boxing champion Dave Hilton Jr from Montreal, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting his two young daughters, and was sent to jail for seven years.

On Saturday, I did not find my favorite football coach Joe Paterno with the Penn State team. “As you know, the kids that were the victims, I think we ought to say a prayer for them,”. This statement from Joe does not cut. Because he had failed to inform the police when he was told that his assistant, Jerry Sandusky, was seen sexually molesting a 12 year old boy in a locker in the Univ. gym washroom. Joe paid a very heavy price for keeping his silence. The most celebrated 84 years old coach was ingloriously fired along with the President of the Pennsylvania State University. After having coached the team for 46 years, and having won the most football bowls in the N.C.A.A. history, bringing two national championships to the institution, his firing was a tragic end of the career a legend.. He did inform his superiors, but at that time it was believed that Paterno was the “de facto” superior and he should have called the police as the law required him to do…

In Canada, studies show that up to 50 per cent of sport participants have experienced mild harassment to abuse. More than 20 per cent of elite athletes have had sexual intercourse with people in positions of authority in sport. In a study of high school students, over 40 per cent identified sporting environments as places of harassment. By looking at Graham James, who was coaching Swift Current Broncos, a WHL junior team, it was hard to imagine that he was a pedophile. I saw him behind the bench once when Broncos were playing Saskatoon Blades.  A 14 year old boy, Sheldon Kennedy from Manitoba, was recruited to play junior level hockey – the first stage of playing in NHL. In 1997, he disclosed publically that for years he suffered sexual abused at the hands of his ice hockey coach, Graham James, who controlled Kennedy’s hockey career and his life from the time he was 14 to 19. It was Kennedy’s testimony against his former coach that helped end the silence about the physical and sexual abuse of athletes. “The coach is so respected,” says Kennedy. “Your parents send you away and say, ‘Do what he says.’ At that age, you listen — it’s the first step if you want to play pro.”

When we talk about the safety of our children can we trust people we know and people in a position of authority? Are our children safe in the care of priests/granthies? In 2002, the Boston Globe uncovered a scandal of international proportions when it began running a series of investigative reports detailing dozens of cases in which 1200 Catholic priests had sexually abused scores of children. More than 80 percent of the church’s victims were male. Those revelations shook the church to its core, prompting outrage and calls for reform all the way from California to New York to the Vatican in Rome.

We cannot be sure that our children are safe in Schools either. Last week, Delta Police recommended a charge of sexual assault against a 43-year-old male Delta Secondary School teacher after a young girl reported being attacked near a school gym. The teacher, whose name has not been released and who has not been charged in connection with the case, was arrested Nov. 6. The alleged offence occurred Nov. 4.  A national study, conducted by American Association of University Women, reported by Jenny Anderson (in New York Times, Nov. 7, 2011), reveals that nearly half of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the last school year, with 87 percent of those who have been harassed reporting negative effects such as absenteeism, poor sleep and stomachaches. Overall, 45 percent of students survey said they were harassed during the 2010-11 year. This student-on-student sexual harassment is such an epidemic it has become a normal part of the school experience for many students. Several parents from our community have mentioned to me that their son or daughter is not “listening” to them. My suggestion has been and still is that: “Talk to your child, express your loving support, and try to find out if he/she is being harassed or bullied”.. I would tell any of my kids, that his/her body is a temple which must be from desecration, that adults aren’t supposed to touch and their bodies in sexual ways, and that if anyone, no matter who it is, or how close we are, ever touches one of them in a way they find disturbing or embarrassing, they should come to me, and I will believe them, and I will act.

The tragedy is that only 9 percent of the victims report to the parents or to the school authorities. They do not report because of the fear that they will not be believed; fear that they will be blamed for the abuse; the intimidation of the power of the teacher; and because of the inability of most children to talk about sexual matters with adults, for cultural or other reasons. In our Indo-Canadian community there is a taboo against using “S” word in presence of females. Even in the pitch dark evening of my life I cannot discuss sexuality with my children and grandchildren. It is a difficult undertaking, However, we can handle it tactfully.

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children morals and values. We cannot depend solely on the schools to fulfill this important duty. What is going on in school corridors, school play grounds and classrooms, is also the result of the moral failings of the modern society. The vulgarity shown, acted/depicted in Soap Operas, movies and commercial ads, are making the individuals less sensitive and more indifferent towards those who are preyed upon. Thus, it is better to empower our children with self-confidence. Teach them the art of anticipation and tell them to keep in mind the Murphy’s Law”: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. They should always take carefully measured steps.

Francis Bacon said “Parents, who wish to train up their children in the way they should go, must go in the way in which they would have their children go.”

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