Bad secretsFor most parents, protecting their children is one of their main objectives. When something bad happens, feelings of anger, confusion and helplessness can be overwhelming. That’s what happened to one Alexandria mother when she wasn’t able to protect her children from something “bad.”
By: Tara Bitzan, Alexandria Echo Press
For most parents, protecting their children is one of their main objectives. When something bad happens, feelings of anger, confusion and helplessness can be overwhelming.
That’s what happened to one Alexandria mother when she wasn’t able to protect her children from something “bad.”
But she’s taken the “bad” thing and tried to turn it into a positive by bringing awareness to other parents and to encourage children to speak out.
A PARENTS’ NIGHTMARE
Six years ago an Alexandria couple left their two boys, ages 6 and 4, at a friend’s house for a few hours during the day.
When they picked them up, the boys told their parents what had occurred while they were there. They were things that no parent wants to hear.
“[Child’s name omitted] informed us immediately of the stuff that went on,” the mother said. “We questioned him further and I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was in shock!
“I was so confused that I called the police because I didn’t know what else to do, and they told me that this was definitely something that should be reported.”
The boys told their parents that a 14-year-old boy in the home got their clothes wet and had them take them off to dry, had them spank each other in front of him, had them lay on top of each other, and had them watch him masturbate.
They said he also promised them money if they’d come back two more times.
The mother noted that one of her boys sought out the older boy’s stepmother who was home at the time and told her what was happening and she told him to “stay away” from the older boy.
“I understand that kids that age are often sexually curious, but there’s a big difference between that and what happened,” the mother said tearfully. “This just isn’t OK.”
Later, the parents noticed red marks on their 6-year-old son’s neck. He said the older boy had grabbed him and told him that if he told anyone, he would hurt him worse.
An investigator interviewed the boys, who illustrated what happened with the use of a doll. They later testified in court.
A restraining order was put in place for the accused boy and he was required to attend a treatment program.
The mother believes that the boy was later sentenced to a year at a live-in treatment facility after violating his probation. He was also registered as a juvenile sex offender.
“But now he’s an adult and he’s living here in Douglas County, and no one has to know anything because he was a juvenile when it happened,” she said. “I am just hoping and praying that the treatment helped.”
While the mother feels her boys have all but forgotten the incident, she has had a harder time moving past it and even now, six years later, is moved to tears when she thinks about it.
She channeled her anger into a book, meant to encourage children to speak out when something bad happens, like her own boys did.
The book, The Bad Secret, was published under the pen name Ann Marie and is available online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
The credit page states the following: “This book is written to give a special ‘thank you’ to my two sons, ages 4 and 6, for telling me their bad secret. Because of their bravery, honesty and knowledge, they saved themselves, their younger brother and hopefully many other children from sexual abuse.”
The book is targeted at young readers and states that, “A secret can be a good secret or a bad secret.” It explains the difference and then encourages children to share bad secrets with someone they trust.
“A bad secret goes away when you tell mommy or daddy, your teacher, or anyone… then there are no more secrets at all,” the book states.
“Your child is precious – too precious to allow anything bad to happen to them,” the mother penned on the book’s back cover. “Communication and knowledge given to them will help them stay safe.”
“I am not out to gain anything from this,” the mother said. “I just want people to know what can happen and to look at things differently.
“Don’t drop your kids off at a beach where there are lots of people or trust that they are safe at a family reunion where you don’t know the guest of some distant relative.
“As much as most of us don’t want to think about this, you have to,” she added. “A child molester isn’t always an older man – it can be a 14-year-old boy. People don’t just wake up one day and become a child molester. They are the way they are. You can’t trust anyone.”