On Saturday afternoon, Sgt. Terry Hall of the Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) spoke about adults’ responsibility to educate their children about sexual predators.
Sgt. Hall spoke at Saturday’s Happy Kids, Happy Families, Happy Lives conference held by Decatur County 4 Kids.
He runs a nationwide “Body Safety” program for students kindergarten through fifth grade, has worked seven years in the IPD Sex Offense Branch, and 30 years as an officer. Hall was assaulted as a child and his work with children stems from that experience.
Decatur County 4 Kids is working on bringing the Body Safety program to Decatur County schools, according to Teresa Hoeing, chairwoman of 4 Kids. Hoeing reported that, according to results from a survey conducted during the Decatur County Fair, 38 percent of people feel that sexual abuse is not a problem in Decatur County. The belief that sexual abuse is not a problem in an area, said Terry Hall, is exactly what sexual predators want.
Hall used the example of a man who was convicted of molesting 80 children. The convict, Hall said, had researched if there were any body safety programs in the Wabash area. The areas where the perpetrator had found his victims had no programs, meaning that his victims would likely not report what had happened to them. The same was true for another man who had molested 26 children.
“By having programs you’re sending the message ‘we won’t tolerate this’,” Hall said. “Let’s face it, child molesters want to go where they’re under the radar.”
In Hall’s experience traveling to Korea, Japan, and Afghanistan, the United States does the poorest job in protecting women and children. Hall used many examples, including that of a little girl who was in a psychology ward because of the abuse she endured. The girl was discounted as a credible source, because she was undergoing extensive therapy due to the abuse.
There were several examples of molesters being convicted and then serving little to no sentence, and going on to work with children. When asked why justice is so rarely served, Hall responded bitterly, “It’s just not that important (to some people).” He further described how he’s had officers complain to him that after his program about sexual assault, they have more work to do.
Hall’s Body Safety program addresses a number of societal problems that keep children from reporting abuse. The number one reason is that adults don’t want to acknowledge there is a problem. Sometimes kids are accused of lying about assaults.
Hall posed the question, how can kids lie about something they don’t know about? Kids are purposely left in the dark about the private areas of the body, because speaking about the genitalia makes adults uncomfortable, so how can a kid know how to perform an explicit sexual action if it hadn’t happened?
“Kids aren’t allowed to call privates by their real names, let alone say someone touched them.” Hall said, “Our children are being hurt and we’re hung up on what the body parts are called? It makes me mad.”
He also described how children are usually forced to give affection on demand, “Give your aunt a kiss. Come here, give me a hug,” Hall described, “Children are taught respect for adults, but there’s no respect for kids. When does the ‘affection’ stop?”
Hall said his Body Safety program focuses on teaching kids that while they have to still respect their parents, they can tell adults “no.” The program is supposed to be empowering, not scary, Hall said, “Kids can say no if someone touches them for no good reason.”
The “good reason” may be if parents have to wash their younger kids, or the doctor has to give an examination. The bad reasons are anything that makes the child uncomfortable which can’t be justified.
“If dad has to stop, who has to stop?” Hall said. Kids still have to say “please” and “thank you” but if they don’t want to be touched, then they shouldn’t be touched out of respect for the child."
Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004