The newest TLC reality show featuring the infamous Duggar family is called “Breaking the Silence,” referring to the recent discovery of molestation committed by Josh, the oldest Duggar child, against his own sisters. The original show that made them famous, 19 Kids and Counting, has been cancelled, but I guess the network just can’t bring itself to part with its biggest cash cow yet. It’s also more than a little ironic that the title “Breaking the Silence” is referring to a family that went out of its way to cover up the abuse, and only issued half-assed not-pologies when they couldn’t hide it any longer.
I learned something throughout this entire “scandal.” I learned how many people, my own Facebook friends included, know shockingly little about sex abuse. What it is: a crime. And what it isn’t: a “teenage mistake,” an expression that’s been thrown around quite a bit, as if molesting your sibling is on par with breaking a window playing baseball or staying out past curfew. Those are things that normal teenagers do.
But the biggest shock for me was the outrage after I commented (unwisely, I know) on a related article that if Josh Duggar were my son, I would put the handcuffs on him myself.
Is it necessary for me to have children of my own to understand that helping them hide from the consequences of their actions isn’t helping them at all? Why is the future of an outed sex offender more important than the future of a victim who has been shamed into silence? To ask, “What would you do if it were your son?” is the wrong question. If you are outraged at the thought of someone wrongly touching your child, then you know reporting the offender is the right thing to do. Frankly, I’m a little concerned about the number of people who seem to put image above justice. How many people are aware that letting justice be served is a form of love?
I know a family in which the kid caught with drugs was denied bail by his parents, who wanted him to spend a night in jail to fully comprehend the magnitude of his decision. On a lesser scale, I was raised in a home where we lost privileges for breaking the rules no matter how “sorry” we said we were. We were old enough to have rules, and therefore old enough to choose to break them. At fourteen years of age, why do we act like Josh Duggar shouldn’t have known better than to hurt someone?
Love may be tough, but it doesn’t enable.