A mentality persists that authority figures such as pastors, doctors, police officers or government officials can be trusted around children. It is important that both parents and children learn that no person is more trustworthy than another simply because of their religion, age, occupation or social status. Children do need to learn to listen and to follow instruction, but they should not be taught to do whatever an authority figure tells them to do. Obedience and trust in authority figures could put a child in danger of being abused by them.
By now, everyone has heard horror stories of how the Catholic church has been a cesspool for child molesters, but as pastors who were recently arrested for child sex-trafficking have displayed, people still falsely entrust others based on their social status. While many adults trust other adults based on their societal roles, realistically, many predators gravitate towards roles in which they are able to practice their crimes in a manner in which they can easily prey upon victims are less likely to be caught. Therefore, parents and children should remain consistently suspicious of strangers no matter if the stranger is a government official, pastor, doctor, or even a teacher, coach, or babysitter.
Children should know that nobody has power over them and that their well-being should never be sacrificed for the benefit of anybody else. They should never feel like they have to choose between their safety and getting in trouble for disrespecting an adult. If someone or something doesn’t seem right to them, they need to know they have the authority to question authority and how to do so in a manner that will keep their safety the top priority.
Often, abusers will threaten children that something bad will happen to the child or the child’s family if they tell anyone about the abuse. They may try to make the child believe that they have power over the child or that it is god’s will that the abuse occur. If children know about such lies and know that no group of people is immune from bad people and that no group of people should have power over another group, then, they are much more likely to report suspicious activity to a trusted adult rather than feel at fault.
As libertarians know, authority does not equate to morality. We cannot create a moral society by simply following authority figures and following orders. An individual who questions the authenticity of words and judges the character of others based on their actions is very hard to indoctrinate and will be more protected from scams and schemers.
Many Americans trust in at least one of the two major political parties, and as a whole, they trust government agencies and officials. This trust was ingrained into them when they said the “Pledge of Allegiance” daily, when they received their government history lessons in their government school, and when they were told by their parents to respect elders and authority figures. Most are so used to living under authority that they fear a world without it no matter how incompetent or destructive the authorities may be.
But it isn’t just religious and political leaders that Americans revere; many Americans trust “experts,” or people who claim to have a higher level of education on a topic than themselves, even if the education was completed through an institution that taught the individual biased or incomplete information. People are quick to trust doctors, teachers, and employers without question.
Recent news shows that people are willing to cause harm to themselves or others to keep alive the illusion that authority knows what is best for them. Mayo Clinic recently showed that patients get a different diagnosis 88% of the time when they seek a second opinion. A recent repeat of the famous Miligram Experiment showed that many adults would inflict pain upon another individual if an authority figure, in this case a teacher, told them to do so. And another example shows that employees are happy to put chips in their bodies to please their employers even if they know the chips could be used to track them and their purchases, are vulnerable to hackers, and could cause health complications.
There are good and bad people in all professions, races, religions, sexes and geographical regions of the world. Thinking that a particular group of people is immune to evil is a grave mistake. It is one thing for an adult to not take responsibility in their free-thinking and safety and to be duped into believing that their chosen affiliates can do no harm, but it is another to expose a child, who can be easily manipulated and sexually abused, to such indoctrination.
Children do not need to be sheltered by their parents in order to stay safe from predators. When children are equipped with the knowledge that they need to safely interact with others, they should not live in fear of the world around them. Knowledge on how to handle situations and freedom to stand up for themselves allows children to be directly involved in interactions instead of controlled by them.
It is good for children to be exposed to other adults. Parents can find trusted adults by looking for their tribe—a group of other adults in which they trust around their children and can rely on for communal support. Tribes help keep us safe from predators, and, fortunately, with the development of social media, it is much easier for parents to connect with other like-minded parents.
Children should be comfortable with their bodies and know that they have rights to their body that shall not be infringed upon by ANY adult NO MATTER WHAT. Nobody has a right to a child’s body other than the child. Bodily autonomy should be one of the first rights that a child is taught that they possess, and they should be taught how to fight for this right and how to tell others when they have been abused.