August 23, 2007, - 10:19 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Readers of this site have long read my laments on society’s attacks on men and fathers. The onslaughts have lasting effects that are harmful to us all and certainly to our future, America’s children. A strong male role model is key to so many important things, including a safe America and a tough front against Islamists and their terrorist tactics.
Today, my friend, Detroit-based Wall Street Journal columnist and reporter Jeff Zaslow, has a magnificent column, echoing some of these thoughts and providing more examples of how our society has gone way too far in its negative campaign against men. And that includes a famous perpetrator of this anti-male mythology–”America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh.
The future of Western civilization does not lie in a matriarchy, and although Jeff doesn’t go that far in his column, I think we know where we’re headed, and so does he:
Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men?
By Jeff Zaslow
When children get lost in a mall, they’re supposed to find a “low-risk adult” to help them. Guidelines issued by police departments and child-safety groups often encourage them to look for “a pregnant woman,” “a mother pushing a stroller” or “a grandmother.”
The implied message: Men, even dads pushing strollers, are “high-risk.”
Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.
Child-welfare groups say these are necessary precautions, given that most predators are male. But fathers’ rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men’s relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can’t find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.
People assume that all men “have the potential for violence and sexual aggressiveness,” says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male stranger “as a potential evildoer,” he says, and as a byproduct, “there’s an overconfidence in female virtues.” . . .
TV shows, including the Dateline NBC series “To Catch a Predator,” hype stories about male abusers. Now social-service agencies are also using controversial tactics to spread the word about abuse. This summer, Virginia’s Department of Health mounted an ad campaign for its sex-abuse hotline. Billboards featured photos of a man holding a child’s hand. The caption: “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together.”
More than 200 men emailed complaints about the campaign to the health department. “The implication is that if you see a man holding a girl’s hand, he’s probably a predator,” says Marc Rudov, who runs the fathers’ rights site TheNoNonsenseMan.com. “In other words, if you see a father out with his daughter, call the police.” . . .
Mr. Walsh, host of Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted,” began advocating for missing children in 1981, after his son was killed by a stranger. He knows some men are offended by his advice to never hire a male babysitter. But as he sees it, if a teenage boy wants to experiment with sex, you don’t want him using your kids.
Um, hasn’t Mr. Walsh seen the many stories (even just here in the Detroit area) of adult women preying on teen-age boys for sex? Come on. Wake up. Women are becoming just as predatory as we’re taught to believe men are.
“It’s not a witch hunt,” he says. “It’s all about minimizing risks. What dog is more likely to bite and hurt you? A Doberman, not a poodle. Who’s more likely to molest a child? A male.”
John Walsh says men are now Dobermans?! (Except him, of course.) Sounds like he’s been watching too much Oprah and “The View.”
Airlines use similar reasoning when they seat unaccompanied minors only with women. They are trying to decrease the odds of a problem. Certainly, many men would be safe seatmates for kids, but sometimes, especially on overnight flights in darkened cabins, “you have to make generalizations for the safety of a child,” says Diana Fairechild, an expert witness in aviation disputes. Airlines have had decades of experience monitoring the gender of abusive seatmates, she adds, quoting a line repeated in airline circles: “No regulation in aviation takes effect without somebody’s blood on it.”
I think I smell a perfectly justified class-action gender-discrimination lawsuit against airlines.
Most men understand the need to be cautious, so they’re willing to take a step back from children, or to change seats on a plane. One abused child is one too many. Still, it’s important to maintain perspective. “The number of men who will hurt a child is tiny compared to the population,” says Benjamin Radford, who researches statistics on predators and is managing editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer. “Virtually all of the time, if a child is lost or in trouble, he will be safe going to the nearest male stranger.”
Right on, Jeff Zaslow. If only America’s conventional wisdom was actually infused with this kind of common sense.
Tags: airline circles, America, Benjamin Radford, Child advocate, columnist and reporter, Detroit, Diana Fairechild, George Mason University, Jeff Zaslow, John Walsh, managing editor, Marc Rudov, Peter Stearns, Professor, science magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, soccer, To Catch a Predator, Touching Letter, Trevor Romain, Virginia, Virginia's Department of Health, Wall Street Journal