Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar spoke out for the first time on June 4th since reports emerged of their son Joshua molesting five victims, including several of his sisters. It was revealed that the fifth victim was a babysitter for the family (The Kelly File, 2015).
Throughout the interview, Megyn Kelly questioned both Jim Bob and Michelle on their thought processes and emotions, as well as a timeline of the events. The Duggar family has been well respected in the conservative Christian community. Jim Bob, the patriarch of the family, has served in the Arkansas House of Representatives, and the family has had numerous documentaries as well as a popular reality television show about their family. Jim Bob and Michelle have had a voice for conservative Christians in politics and have strongly opposed abortion and gay marriage. Through their platforms, the Duggars have emphasized purity, faith, importance of chaperoning dates, and the value of waiting to kiss until one’s wedding day. Joshua Duggar, the perpetrator of the molestation events being currently discussed, once described their family as “the epitome of conservative values” (The Kelly File, 2015).
Jim Bob and Michelle insisted that Joshua had a “tender conscious” and that their son was the one that repeatedly approached them about the molestation, confessing his actions on at least three separate occasions. They described the actions that Joshua confessed to as being touching both over and under clothing, both while the girls were asleep and later, while they were awake. Michelle Duggar stated multiple times throughout the interview that her daughters most likely were not aware that Josh had touched them in an improper or wrong manner. Jim Bob and Michelle described that when they approached the girls about Josh’s actions, they had to tell the girls that it was wrong. Michelle stated that the family “put up safeguards, gave our daughters a safe place to talk, and told our daughters that their hearts were safe” (The Kelly File, 2015). Jim Bob and Michelle discussed sending Josh to a mentor and non-licensed treatment center in Little Rock so that he could have some separation from the girls after Josh reported to his parents for the third time that he was sexually molesting his sisters, one of whom was only 5 years old.
Megyn Kelly asked the Duggar parents if they ever considered the legal ramifications of keeping the secret for their son, and Jim Bob responded that “parents are not mandated reporters” (The Kelly File, 2015). Megyn also asked Jim Bob if he felt any guilt for the way the abuse continued, especially considering the daughters’ young ages. Jim Bob skirted the question, but replied, “Kids will make their own choices and their own decisions.”
Michelle Duggar claims that Joshua was “a changed person” after the treatment center, and that there was absolutely no need to fear the sexual behavior happening again in the home. After an anonymous tip regarding the molestations was called into the authorities, an investigation was opened up. No charges were formally made due to statute of limitations. All children in the Duggar family did receive professional counseling.
Megyn Kelly asked Michelle and Jim Bob about the media calling them hypocrites for preaching family values. Jim Bob replied, “Every family has things happen in the families. Some families have darker things than others.” Further, Jim Bob said that he had talked to multiple families that “had this same situation happen, but worse,” seeming to somewhat normalize the molestation that happened.
Michelle fielded a difficult question about how she compared transgender people to possible child molesters when she had been hiding a secret of child molestation in her own home. Jim Bob interrupted and said that “pedophile” was the word used, and that did not apply to their situation since Josh was a minor. Michelle said, “Every one of us has done things wrong. That’s why Jesus came.” Then, Jim Bob went on to discuss that the “real media story” should be about “going after the system for illegally releasing [juvenile] records” (The Kelly File, 2015). Michelle commented, “[The girls have] been victimized more by what’s happened in these past couple weeks because 12 years ago, they didn’t even know what had happened to them. Now, they’ve been victimized by people with an agenda.”
- More than one third of those who are sexual abuse perpetrators are under the age of 18 themselves. This still constitutes sexual abuse, regardless of age, juvenile, or adult status!
- As many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused in their childhood.
(Stop It Now, 2015)
- ANY sexual touching between an adult and child is sexual abuse.
- ANY sexual touching between children where there is a significant age difference (3 years or more) or developmental / size difference.
- Sexual touching does NOT have to include penetration to be abuse.
(Stop It Now, 2015).
Prevention is KEY
Studies show that 9 out of 10 children do not tell anyone about the abuse. Learn the warning signs of both victims and perpetrators by researching. Facilitate open discussion with your children about appropriate and inappropriate touch. Trust your instincts if something feels wrong.
(Stop It Now, 2015).
Reporting if Necessary
If you find out that your child or a child you know is being sexually abused, the right thing to do is to REPORT immediately. Call the helpline at Child Protective Services in order to protect your child, yourself, and to follow the law for the protection of victims of sexual abuse. TALK openly to your child. Let your child know that they are special and loved, but let them talk at their own pace. Find a professional counselor who can help the child work through the trauma he/she has now experienced so that he/she can heal and move on from it.
Finally, do not minimize the devastating effects of child sexual abuse. It is harmful to the victims to minimize and accept the abuse as a normal part of childhood, as a normal teenage mistake. Child sexual abuse is an issue that society cannot afford to ignore, minimize, and explain away. It is something that must be dealt with head on, so that appropriate conversation and prevention can happen around this issue. If a child makes a choice to become a sexual perpetrator, then society must hold him/her accountable. There should be no excuses for child sexual abuse.
The Kelly File [Motion picture]. (2015). United States: Fox News Insider.
“Stop It Now.” (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2015, from www.stopitnow.org