Longing to hear her whisper the seeeecret, I leaned in close and pulled my doll's string again.
"Do you want to try on my glasses?” Mrs. Beasley asked. “You may if you wish.
Huh? I pulled her string again.
"Do you want to play?"
I stared at my doll. I didn't want to try on her glasses or play with her—I wanted to know the secret! Frustrated, I grabbed her by the neck and pulled her string over and over again. Mrs. Beasley asked me more questions until she asked again, “Do you want to know a secret? I know one.”
With one more pull of the cord, my hopes of hearing her secret were dashed forever. Mrs. Beasley never divulged her secret but continued on with the same cycle of questions, and I was ready to yank her string right out of her polka-dotted little bottom. I still loved my Mrs. Beasley doll, but I was one disappointed six-year old. Why? Because children love secrets.
Perpetrators love secrets too. They depend on them and will use cunning methods and various threats to convince your child to keep their secrets. Understanding this fact gives parents an opportunity to thwart a perpetrator’s plans by creating a home environment where secrets are discussed and discouraged.
“But what about ‘fun’ secrets?” You might ask. Lest you think I’m an old humbug, let me give you a replacement word for secret that’s even more fun for children and it begins with s. Replace the word secret with SURPRISE.
Let’s say you’re going to have a surprise party for grandma and you don’t want your little darling to blow the cover. You could say, “Sweetheart, we’re going to have a surprise party for grandma. We’re not going to tell her about it until she walks through the door and we all yell, ‘SURPRISE!’ and then you get to answer all of grandma’s questions and tell her everything.” Choosing our words wisely as parents requires some thinking and creativity, but it's well worth our time and effort when the goal is protecting our kids.
I don’t know who designed Mrs. Beasley, but whoever did, took the time to understand children. Thousands of Mrs. Beasley dolls were sold in the sixties and early seventies. Perpetrators take the time to understand children too. And thousands of children will be molested this year. It’s important for parents to remember what it’s like to be a child and do what they can to keep their children from becoming another statistic, shackled by a lonely, senseless secret.
Perpetrators count on our children to keep secrets. Our fifth step in protecting our kids is teaching our children that, within our families, we don’t keep secrets. We must also empower our children to say no to adults when they don't feel like hugging or kissing because perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries (step four). And remember that perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).