This was going to be a very different column that what I’ve ended up writing about. This was going to be the column where, sick of seeing another in the news each week, I wrote about pedophiles. I was going to lambast our justice system and our social system for the absolute failure in dealing with pedophilia and it’s disgusting crimes.
I’ve done my research and I was prepared to write that column. With the ridiculous sentence and consideration that was just handed down for convicted pedophile, Stanley Broomfield, the time was right to write that column.
But, as I put the finishing touches to my call to action, I listened to the reactions of others regarding his crimes and his sentence. Like many, my heart broke as I listened to the grandfather say that their family now lives in fear of retribution from a man who has already escaped custody once. But the comments that stuck with me the most as I wrote this column were the ones that made me angry.
This morning, as I listened to the statement from Charlene Johnson that the government is launching a $50,000 public awareness campaign to educate people on how to pick appropriate care, I shouted at the radio. I’ve been doing that a fair bit this past week.
I’ve listened to ignorant people blame the parents of a tormented and traumatized young girl and I’ve yelled back at them too. But of course they can’t hear me over the radio and yelling does nothing but make my voice hoarse.
And I’m tired of yelling. I’m sick of being angry with people who would rather open their mouths than think. I’m exhausted by the thought of how poorly our government handles both pedophiles and child-care and all the changes that need to happen. That need to happen now.
So if you’re one of those people that truly believes that blaming the victim’s family is the right attitude to take — as seems to be our government’s response — than please bear with me. Give me a moment to rationally present some facts to you.
Stanley Broomfield has 30 prior convictions on his record. This is a fact. At least one of those convictions was against a child.
Broomfield’s wife decided to take children into her care, knowing full well that her husband was a man with a criminal record. I don’t know one hundred percent that this is a fact, but I think it’s clear she knew he had a record. She did not reveal her husband’s past to the families she worked for. That is a fact.
The girl’s mother was a newcomer to the community. She needed care for her children. Those are facts. She was most likely under pressure to find that care as quickly as possible in order to keep a job. Again, I don’t know that for sure, but having been in her situation myself I know what it’s like.
She found out about a woman offering care. Had no other options available to her, and seized the opportunity. Whether she asked for references or went on her gut instinct, I don’t know. Perhaps she trusted in human goodness. Maybe she expected fair, decent and honest treatment from a fellow mother.
It takes two weeks or longer to have a criminal background check done. And it costs money. Time and money are two things in short supply when you’re a parent trying to secure employment.
Personally, I ask for references for the caregiver and background checks for all household members. But I have the leisure to do that because I work from home. I don’t have an employer breathing down my neck asking me to be at work tomorrow whether I can find suitable care or not. I have experienced that in the past and I have, on occasion, had to trust people based on a single recommendation or a gut instinct. I’ve been fortunate.
But even with background checks, there is an element of trust. We have to trust the care provider in giving us the names of household members. We have to trust that the minor children in the house are upstanding citizens. We have to trust that guests and relatives won’t have access to our children.
It’s a lot of trust to put in someone. And providing child care is, in my opinion, a position of trust. As such, those that abuse that trust should be held accountable.
Public awareness campaigns are fine and well, but until conditions change in this province, awareness will do little. Until employees have job protection when they can’t find appropriate care, until communities step forward to create more care environments, until our justice system takes real steps to condemn dishonesty in care settings than yes, we can blame the victims.
But it’s just shifting blame. And it will make no difference for future children.