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August 24, 2007 - 11:35 am

Several readers have emailed a href=”http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118782905698506010.html”this article/a from the span style=”font-style:italic;”WSJ/span entitled “Are We Teaching Our Kids to be Fearful of Men?”br /br /blockquoteAre we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.br /br /Child-welfare groups say these are necessary precautions, given that most predators are male. But fathers’ rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men’s relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can’t find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.br /br /People assume that all men “have the potential for violence and sexual aggressiveness,” says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male stranger “as a potential evildoer,” he says, and as a byproduct, “there’s an overconfidence in female virtues.”/blockquotebr /br /Virginia’s Department of Health has a troubling ad showing a man holding a little child’s hand. The caption reads: “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together.” If you get a chance, a href=”http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118782905698506010.html”click on the article/a and take a look at it and see the negative statement it makes about men. br /br /The excuse given for the negative ad is:br /br /blockquoteVirginia’s campaign was designed to encourage people to trust their instincts about possible abuse, says Rebecca Odor, director of sexual and domestic violence prevention for the state health department. She stands by the ads, pointing out that 89% of child sex-abuse perpetrators in Virginia are male./blockquotebr /br /The psychological damage to children of not having men around to interact with because of these scare tactics is never mentioned but something that should be considered by the Virginia Department of Health when they develop such ads. Surely, they can come up with something creative that would help make people aware of sexual predators but would not demonize men in general, most of whom are innocent.

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