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Ever since Josh Duggar publicly admitted to molesting a series of girls as a teenager, much of the news coverage has been about the stain his actions put on the Duggar name. His resignation from his Executive Director position at the Family Research Council is still a trending story.
Some people are downright gleeful that the Duggars’ aren’t so perfect after all, and are celebrating their ‘fall from grace.’ Did I miss something? We are talking about a young man who molested young girls right? Who cares how it makes his family look? What about his victims?
Instead of being so shocked or disturbingly gleeful about this unfolding story, we could take the time to address the problem of families choosing not to adequately deal with sexual abuse that occurs on their watch. But why would we do that when we can focus instead on the drama of it all, asking unimportant questions like “is that why Jim Bob didn’t run for political office?”
Then there are the die-hard Duggar fans who are loyal to the point where logic and common sense seem to have escaped them completely. They see nothing wrong with making insensitive comments like, Oh, he was just a kid. Kids fool around like that all the time. He got treatment so what’s the big deal? No. No. No.
Kids might try to explore the private parts of their friends while playing doctor or even explore their own genitalia. Yes, to some degree this is normal. What is NOT normal is molesting a series of children years younger than you over a one year period.
However, the most disturbing comment I heard came from Josh Duggar’s father, Jim Bob. He expressed to People Magazine that “when Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.”
He speaks of what happened as if Josh was caught stealing a candy bar from a local drug store. A “very bad mistake?” Minimize much? I’m glad they found solace in God to get through the dark and difficult time THEY were having. I wonder, did the little girls Josh Duggar molested find the same peace?
Maybe someone should help Mr. Duggar understand that although they might be over their dark and difficult time, victims of molestation can spend a lifetime trying to sort through their dark and difficult time.
Some victims struggle with feelings of shame, low self-esteem, and are unable to trust again. Many succumb to depression and anxiety, ever fearful of dangers real and imagined. But good for you Josh, I’m glad you made it out OK.
I find it troubling that despite molesting multiple girls, Josh Duggar does not appear to have received any specialized treatment for juvenile sex offenders. Molestation is not the kind of behavior that one just outgrows or is solved in a few counseling sessions. Intensive treatment is required to help the offender learn strategies to prevent them from abusing others in the future.
Unfortunately, the story unfolding is not unique to the Duggars. In many cases where offenders are young, the incident of molestation is minimized and often thrown under the rug. Families choose to handle things in house and move on as if nothing happened.
I’m ever the optimist though and believe that this tragedy can lead to some good. I hope that people begin to focus on spreading awareness about the harmful effects of childhood sexual abuse and the importance of youthful sex offenders receiving proper treatment. We can turn this into a teachable moment and educate families about what they should and shouldn’t do when they learn of, or suspect that a child is being abused.
If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that children need to be safe. They need to be able to trust that the people in charge will protect them. We might not have been able to protect the little girls Josh Duggar molested, but we can support them and other victims of molestation by not minimizing their experiences.