“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.”
-- George Eliot
Most people can agree that the rose is one of nature’s most beautiful flowers. A vase of roses can brighten a room, and there is nothing quite like a rose bush filled with blooms of any variety or color. In fact, a healthy rose bush is part of and helps support a healthy ecosystem. Whether wild or landscaped, it adds an aesthetic touch to a yard, yields a lovely scent for passerbys to enjoy, and provides a place for bees to buzz and birds to chirp.
When left untended, some rose bushes still thrive. Many others will slowly wither, losing blooms and then leaves as the branches become dry and brittle. The yard will no longer look as good or smell as nice, and the happy hum of nature will cease as the bees and birds move elsewhere.
Children are like roses. Without the prevention efforts and active involvement of concerned adults, many will grow up with their innocence and sexual boundaries intact. Many will not. For every child who is sexually abused, the community as a whole suffers.
If left untreated, the long-term consequences of child sexual abuse can include substance abuse, physical ailments, eating disorders, and mental illness. Compound this with the fact that many children suffer in silence, most not reporting abuse for at least a year, and the end result is a community that begins to slowly wither, one bloom at a time.
The great news, the fabulous news, is that we as communities have a choice. We can choose to put safeguards in place, to make sure our youth-serving organizations have children’s safety as their first priority, to actively and courageously protect children from the day they are born to the day they turn 18. Then, these young adults who were kept safe from child sexual abuse, who have positive relationships with family, educators, religious leaders, coaches, and mentors will be well-equipped to raise another generation of roses to bloom and thrive in years to come.