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COMMENTARY: Protect the innocent

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| September 16, 2022 1:00 AM

If you want to witness a small miracle, the next time friends or family are visiting with their weeks to months old infant, hold the child so they can see your face. Once you have captured their gaze, stick out your tongue. The infant will likely mimic your behavior and stick out their tongue. This seems like a silly experiment until you think about it. To accomplish this feat, the infant must recognize the face of a stranger and then notice the odd protrusion of your fleshy mouth appendage. They then mimic that behavior by moving an appendage they have never seen. This is completely by instinct, as they have not been trained or witnessed their own tongue in action. It really is quite remarkable that we are born with this innate behavior.

Our instinct to mimic develops into our need to “belong.” Our desire to be part of a larger group is fundamental to the organization of society, motivating the cooperation that is necessary for survival. The need to be part of and have status in a tribe, along with eating and reproduction, are the fundamental forces driving human behavior. Because children are born helpless, they also have an innate desire to please in order to facilitate their survival.

These biological imperatives are the foundations shaping much of what we do. We are born with these instincts and they remain with us as we develop our higher brain functions. The ability to consider abstract ideas doesn’t develop until about 8 years old. Our reproductive drive becomes imperative during puberty, and our ability to manage our impulses peaks in our late 20s.

Society recognizes these milestones and enacts legislation setting the general limits for “age appropriate” activities. The beginning of formal education, driving, sex, military service, voting, carrying a firearm, smoking, drinking alcohol are all activities that society has recognized are appropriate only after a specific age.

The stages of child development were first formally described and defined by Jean Piaget and his findings have been validated in countless experiments. Piaget describes how early learning is accomplished by observation and modeling. Children will mimic the behavior of those they encounter. Parents, siblings and other family and friends provide the behavior examples that the child then mimics.

In the 20th century, television also brought a wide spectrum of behaviors into the living room. Children who watched westerns or police dramas or Star Trek would mimic what they saw and play “Cowboys and Indians” or “Cops and Robbers” or Kirk, Spock and McKoy exploring alien planets. This mimicking does not indicate permanent life or career choices; it is simply play.

Similarly, if a 7-year-old boy puts on his mother’s dress and high heels it doesn’t mean he is expressing a gender preference; he is simply mimicking an observed behavior.

Because children want to please, it is important for their parents to distinguish between what the child wants and what the child says they want, because the child believes it is what you want them to say. Also, just because a child does want something doesn’t mean it is appropriate or in their best interests. Most children would be happy with a diet of cake, candy and ice cream, but the parents must guide the child to a healthy diet.

Unfortunately, the dark truth is that those who seek to abuse children understand the child’s psychology. The innocent mimicry and desire to please can be manipulated by abusers who have access to children and the opportunity to molest.

A 2004 U.S. Department of Education report estimates that one in 10 students will experience school-employee sexual misconduct by the time they graduate high school.

In 2006, the CDC reported that about one in four girls and one in six boys in the United States will experience child sexual abuse by the age of 18.

In a recent presentation, Conrad Woodall, who holds a master's degree in forensic psychology and has more than 25 years of experience working with sexual abuse victims, states, “Modeling and observational learning behaviors, now called 'gender expression' are used falsely to justify gender instruction as age appropriate. Molesters are enabled by access to more vulnerable children as an entire generation are pre-groomed by the public schools."

Woodall goes on to describe how the primary indicator that a child is about to be, or is being abused is for them to have age inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors. If the schools are teaching these things then it completely masks the activities of the molester.

For the protection of our children and their innocence, it is time to follow Florida’s lead and ban sex and gender education in school from kindergarten through fourth grade.

It’s just common sense.

• • •

Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.

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