The Sacrifice: Day 4 of Broken Hearted

This is the fourth day of a series entitle “Broken Hearted”. If you missed the first 3 days, you can catch up by clicking the link. My heart broke teaching teen and elementary-aged girls strategies to avert child predators should they make advances into their young lives. On this particular day the students were to draw an oval in the middle of a piece of letter-sized paper and make a frame out of 1 – 2-inch bits of brown yarn by gluing the piles of cut yarn to the paper to look like a frame made out of twigs.

Once the yarn frame was completed each girl was to draw people they could trust into the frame. This was someone they could tell if someone were making advance on them that made them feel uncomfortable. The teachers talked to them about situations in which that could occur and how feelings that something is not right need to be heeded shared with a trusted adult they believe can help them.

The girls worked for the better part of a half hour. At one point, the teacher noted that yarnone 11-year-old had no one in the center of her picture. She was asked who she was going to put there. She said, “I have no one to put there. There is no one I know who would believe me. Everything I do is wrong in my home. My step-mother never has anything good to say. I am new here so I have no friends.” Much to my shock the teacher said, “It’s ok if you have no one. Sometimes that is the case.” Really?

Everyone else had figures drawn into her circles and they were asked to share who was in their frames if they wanted to do so. Another 11-year-old had 3 people drawn in her oval. She explained, “These are my imaginary friends. I talk to them when I have problems.” There was no real person she could talk to so she made up a group. The teacher said, “How creative!”

Those of us who were activity leaders waited for a good debriefing of this HUGE elephant in the room, but it was not addressed. Rather, the teacher and administrator turned to us and said, “I think it would be a good time to transition to games now.” I was beyond mortified! Young people without anyone to talk to are the very ones traffickers choose and groom!

I took the girls to make butterfly wings. While painting fabric, we talked. Each girl was told they could call one of the leaders if they ever got themselves in a situation where they needed to call someone for help. The other activities leader made a list of leader phone numbers and they were posted in the cover of each of the girls’ journals. The one young woman who was leading games is working on her Master’s degree in Psychology. She said imaginary friends at this age could be the beginning of a dissociative disorder. Certainly the girl with no one in her oval frame is at high risk for any number of unhealthy situations. Feeling like one does “not belong” is the number one reason kids get into trouble. My doctoral dissertation was entitled “Intimacy as a Lived Experience of Health”. If children cannot name one person who cares if they live or die, they form alliances in very unhealthy ways: through gangs, traffickers, pedophiles, youth armies and crime rings. Love and belonging are fundamental needs. There is always a manipulative person willing to offer them a cheap substitute–for a price.

My heart was broken. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 I know this is a bit of a twist on what this verse intends, but it speaks to me this morning about the sacrifice involved in giving oneself up for others.

The end –  tomorrow.







8 comments on “The Sacrifice: Day 4 of Broken Hearted

  1. As a former teacher I am stunned that the leaders didn’t adequately address the no-one-to-tell problem. Am so glad you and the others did during your session with them. Thank God you were there!!!!

  2. Dawn,
    I have been following this series with rapt attention. I am not sorry you signed up for this. I am glad someone like you is there to see how “off” this whole thing is, even harmful, as it’s being run here, and to begin to do something about it. I thank God you are writing this series, and that you were able to give some hope and concrete help in the craft time. Sometimes the very people who work at or run this kind of “service” have personality disorders themselves, can even (dare I say it?) be predators or abusers themselves. (Ask me privately sometime how I know.)

    I am also very glad that “Fisherlady” Susan left the important info she did in her comment to your first post in the series. People need to know this, and few do. I’m afraid even a smaller percentage of people in church communities do. Christians can be gullible because they want to be gracious and give people the benefit of the doubt, and many rapidly fall prey to “charmers” like Fisherlady wrote about, especially those who have wormed their way into leadership positions. These people often “present” as godly, caring people, and too many members of the flock almost end up worshiping them instead of God.

    Excelsior, dear friend! I do so wish we could meet someday for (a three-hour) lunch. Maybe we can, sometime. Right now it seems I have torn a ligament in my leg and won’t even be driving for some time, I’m afraid. (Really ripped it! Saw stars and nearly went through the ceiling!) But maybe someday. And this is a topic we could spend three hours talking about, no doubt! And more than that?

  3. Having no one to tell is a huge problem. Like A, I am so glad that you and the other leaders addressed it after it was said to be okay to have no one and creative to make up people in your life who care about you. :/. Gosh. I imagine you were beyond mortified at this point. How I wish you could’ve been the teacher or administrator. Thank you for continuing to share this heart break.

  4. I thought I sent you a (long!) comment. But it seems to have gottne lost. Drat!
    Well, let me just say I’m glad you were there to remedy things a bit, and I’n also glad you’re doing this series. Also, Fisherlady was right on. Wish everyone could read her comment she left on the first post in the series.

  5. This is indeed heart wrenching~One thing about grooming though is that if started early enough in a child’s life the predator can persuade the child that in reality they have no one they can tell because their family simply won’t understand and they will not love them anymore. A predator will take a child who is in everyway secure and loved and remodel their whole thinking process so that they become too afraid to tell anyone, even if they have every family member available to pretect them if they only knew.
    The question then, to the child of if they have someone they can trust should be mitigated to include that YES! there are people they can trust and please, HERE is a number if ever you need someone. They need to know that YES! someone IS there for them and they will be safe. The child must find his/her voice, his/her ability to speak out and be safe.
    A child that has no one perhaps has already been told by a predator that no one is there for them. The child needs to hear something else.
    In our community THAT would have saved many a child.
    I used to think I could tell the children that were most vulnerable… I can now see from those in our community that ANY child is vunlnerable and discerning which ones is impossible. It happens much more often than anyone could ever imagine and to those we thought were absolutely protected.
    Usually there is a network of pedaphiles working together, they share the evil, the victim and the power. When in our community James Bennet was put in prison, the many others working with him in the scandal somehow were evasive and now so many years later after the death of various of them, their names are coming out into the light, showing all the darkness they committed. It is bigger than you think and it includes many professional people in alongside the hidden ones. Their lust for damaging the child and usurping power over them is criminal and they cover for each other.

  6. Pornographer gets 13 years

    by PAUL STRICKLAND, Citizen staff
    Prince George Citizen
    Saying the obligation to protect children is at the heart of the justice system, Mr. Justice Glen Parrett sentenced convicted child pornographer Crystal Dianne Henricks to 13 years in prison Thursday. There was applause from most of the 45 people in the courtroom gallery at the end of the sentencing session.

    At a sentencing hearing Oct. 26, the Crown and the defence in a joint submission called for two years in prison beyond time already served, followed by three years of probation. In prefatory remarks before his decision Thursday, Parrett said that, with all due respect, he viewed the joint submission for two years in prison as irresponsible, based on expediency.

    “It amounts to an invitation to the court to destroy the public’s confidence in the ability of the judicial system to uphold the principles that are fundamental to our society,” the judge said.

    Defence lawyer Keith Aartsen said the sentence would be appealed.

    Henricks, 21, has been in custody since Sept. 12, 1997. That was the date police searched the Willow River trailer where she lived with her husband and co-accused James Darren Bennett, 39, and seized child pornography tapes and other evidence.

    “She had no concern for the children and their feelings,” Parrett said.

    “And she had no concern for the parents of the young victims. . . . Their victim-impact statements are compelling in the heartbreak her actions have caused them and their families.”

    On April 20 a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Henricks guilty of eight of the 15 counts against her. The convictions were on three counts of sexual assault, three counts of administering an overpowering or stupefying drug for purposes of a sexual offence, one count of making child pornography and one count of sexual touching of a young person. Victims included pre-teen and teenage girls and one pre-school boy.

    In her statement to the court, Henricks said, “I just want to say I’m sorry to the victims and all the pain I caused them. I didn’t intentionally mean to cause them harm. I hope that in future I will get to have a relationship with my children.” Henricks has two small children, one born after she was taken into custody; both are now in the care of relatives.

    The judge said he was aware his decision might be appealed. But he said an appellate court or parole officials who might be inclined to shorten Henricks’s time in prison should first watch the pornographic videotapes entered in evidence in her trial to appreciate their full horror.

    On a separate indictment, Bennett pleaded guilty March 3 to 11 counts in the child-pornography case. The proceedings on whether he should be declared a dangerous offender continue Dec. 6.

  7. unfortunately there were hundreds of victims~ too scared to come forward to the public but damaged since infants and through their teenage years~ it is bigger than the media ever shows~

    • Susan,
      We have a similar stream here in Williamsport. Indeed, my husband was a chief witness for the prosecution of one Bible School clown. It was a very enlightening experience. I appreciate your saying you cannot tell which children are at risk and that the perpetrators are everywhere, even in professional offices. I am concerned about one of the youth counselors who stepped down from his overseer position in order to spend time with the youth again. He takes young boys tubing and rafting. I don’t know if there are ever other adults with him, but he makes me nervous. It’s getting to be a sad world. My kids are making adjustments with the grandkids in order to keep them more safe. I pray they succeed.

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