The news has been full of Larry Nassar, the team doctor for USA Gymnastics who will spend the rest of his life in prison for sexually abusing girls and young women in his care. Much has been said about the harm he caused, and about the disheartening lack of response to those who previously tried to report him.
But Jackie Acho and Eva Basilion, who learned the Hanna Perkins Way when their children attended school here, offer important words for parents in their essay, “Inoculating Our Kids Against Pedophiles like Larry Nassar.”
Larry Nassar, once a world-renown sports physician to our country’s top female gymnasts, was convicted and sentenced last week for sexually abusing over 150 women and girls under his care. The details that emerged during the trial were heart wrenching. One of the most stunning revelations was the fact that many parents were actually physically present in the room while their daughters were being molested.
The guilt these parents are suffering must be unbearable. As is the terror this story stirs in every parent’s heart, knowing that we too might have missed what was happening in front of us. But the unsettling truth that has emerged from all of this is clear: We cannot always protect our children in the way that we know.
We cannot always shield them. We cannot always track them. We cannot always cover their eyes or ears. We cannot always ban their books or block their devices. We cannot always forbid them. We cannot always ground them. We cannot threaten them. We cannot lock them away in a room forever. Sometimes, we cannot protect our children from our worst nightmare, even as we stand in the room, feet away, watching…
So what can we do? Is there something? Here is what we learned from some wise people at the Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development — people who have spent decades working with and understanding children. Here is what we also learned from our children: