Roman Polanski case: Where were the responsible adults?

A 13-year old girl is drugged and raped at a party.  Her testimony was that she did not resist because she was afraid of Roman Polanski, the famous and powerful man who admitted raping her.

That a child victim does not resist is no surprise.  Children face tremendous barriers in speaking up against the power and control of an older or stronger person who decides to sexually abuse them. Often times that older or stronger person is someone they trust, respect, love and fear. To prevent sexual abuse of children, we cannot rely on children to say no.  We need to have adults who are willing and able to intervene to protect a child. 

Where were the trusted adults in this child’s life? Of course, we look to her parents, who no doubt failed their responsibility to her. But what about other adults, what about all the other party-goers?  Who else could have taken steps to keep that child safe from sexual harm? By focusing on children learning to protect themselves, we are letting adults off the hook for ensuring children’s safety. By not speaking the truth about child sexual abuse, we are letting our entire society off the hook for accepting the sexualization of children to meet the commercial and other needs of adults.

Those most at risk to abuse our children are not strangers over the internet but people we know in our families and in our community. Often these are people who  are good and talented in many ways, but they have horribly lost control and used their power to sexually abuse.

We cannot rely solely on children to rebuff potential abusers. Just like we cannot rely on law enforcement or child protection systems to prevent abuse--they are set up to intervene after abuse happens.  To keep children from being harmed in the first place, all adults need to get the information, guidance and resources they need so they can be prepared to step in, ask questions, and get help at the playground, the school, the community center and, yes, at the private Hollywood party.

Information on the Polanski case:

What’s unlawful sexual intercourse? And other questions from the Explainer's Roman Polanski roundup http://www.slate.com/id/2229853/

Organizational responses:

Stop Family Violence: Petition: Put Polanski in Prison--no excuses for celebrity pedophiles| http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/pages/481

Darkness to Light: Turn outrage into action to prevent child sexual abuse http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2009/oct/14/turn-outrage-into-action-...

Men  Can Stop Rape: The Messages We Send Young Men: Roman Polanski as a Hollywood “Our Guy” http://mencanstoprape.blogspot.com/2009/10/messages-we-send-young-men-ro...

Sexual Assault Center: Rape of a child must not be excused http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091005/OPINION03/910050322/1001/NEWS

Serious humor about the Polanski case

Audio tweet (fm Chirps): Chris Rock slams Roman Polanski http://chir.ps/1sF
What Whoopi Goldberg ('Not a Rape-Rape'), Harvey Weinstein ('So-Called Crime') et al. Are Saying in Their Outrage Over the Arrest of Roman Polanski http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091026/trillin
 

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Why Permission from a Child or Underaged Teen Doesn't Count