Protecting All Children

Protecting All Children

Discussion date: Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday, after our meditation period, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings offered by Thich Nhat Hanh and focus our discussion on the Third Mindfulness Training, True Love:

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society.

Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

Over the years as we have discussed this training we have focused especially on issues that directly touch most of us daily: intimacy, responsibility, mindful sexuality, and authentic love. One part of the training we haven’t discussed is a phrase Thich Nhat Hanh added in the 1990s: “I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse.” It is a staggering commitment.

A common estimate of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the United States is that it affects one-third of all girls and one-sixth of all boys. It affects children of all ages and world-wide includes acts of molestation, incest, abduction, rape, prostitution, sexual exploitation, child marriage, genital mutilation, forced marriage, and sexual violence,

Our first tendency is to look away. It is unpleasant to even think about it. But most of us also know from our own experience that suffering that is ignored cannot be healed.

This Thursday, during our Dharma Sharing, we will consider together ways we can constructively acknowledge and respond to child sexual abuse. I would like to start our sharing with two questions:

In what ways are we protecting (or not protecting) children in how we think and talk, in how we treat each other, and in what we consume?

How can we work with others, even in very small ways, to prevent child sexual abuse and also care for those who have been harmed?

You are invited to join us.

Below I’ve included several excerpts on child abuse from Thich Nhat Hanh and a short list of organizations addressing child sexual abuse issues.

Below is our first announcement for our fall Mindful Families retreat on November 14-16. Also, on the first Saturday of the New Year, (January 3rd, 2015), the Still Water community will join with other mindfulness communities in the Washington area for a Five Mindfulness Training Transmission Ceremony. It will be an opportunity to formally take and renew the Five Mindfulness Trainings in a public ceremony that spiritually joins us with a 2500 year-old tradition of mindful living.

Warm wishes,

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner

  • Peace is the Way: Still Water Mindful Families Retreat. A retreat that brings our community together. November 14 -16, 2014, at the Charter Hall Retreat Center, Perryville, Maryland.
  • Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. A region-wide ceremony, open to all. Saturday, January 3, 2015, in Oakton, Va.

  • Sexual abuse of children is overwhelming.

    By Thich Nhat Hanh, from a Dharma Talk on December 26, 2010

    Sexual abuse of children is overwhelming. It is said that in the U.S. from five to fifteen percent of young boys are abused sexually and from fifteen to thirty-five percent of little girls are abused sexually. That’s a lot. And when a child is abused like that, she or he will suffer all her life from many things, because her body hasn’t been respected.

    In school, and in the family, we need to teach them to respect themselves, to respect their own body, and to respect the body of the other person. If you are religious leaders, if you are politicians, if you are parents or teachers, if you are educators, please think about it. We can learn from the teaching of the Buddha to organize our life in the family, in the school, in society in such a way that we can be protected and our child will be always protected.

    Protecting Our Children

    By Thich Nhat Hanh, from a Dharma Talk given on August 7, 1998

    My dear friends, I think that we need to set up an alliance between parents and teachers to protect our children. The environment in which our children live does not have enough safety. There are too many negative things in this environment, and the children are exposed to too many dangers. We need to do something to protect the children, day and night, against the aggressions of society. We have organized our society in such a way that we produce many young people who are uprooted from society, from their spiritual traditions, from their families. We have been through times when we have seen the family broken into pieces, and churches which are empty of young people. The spiritual and moral leaders are not able to inspire people, above all the younger generation. There have been times when, and it is true now, when people do not want to listen to the sound of the bell of the church. In the United States, churches no longer ring their bells, and monks no longer wear their habits when they go outside the monastery. Religion has lost its prestige, it’s lost the confidence of people, and so has the family. The family is being broken up. There is no longer any happiness, any harmony in the family. The children born into families like that, growing up in families like that, no longer have confidence in family life; and they no longer have confidence in society or in the church. We have produced generations and generations of young people who can be described as hungry ghosts: hungry for love, for understanding. They can no longer find values to accept and live with.

    ….

    You need time to be with your young people, with your children. Not with incense, but with other things: with your breathing, and by walking in the woods with them.


    Some Organizations Working To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

    The Family Tree, Maryland – Providing Solutions. Preventing Child Abuse: http://www.familytreemd.org

    National Sexual Violence Resource Center: http://www.nsvrc.org

    Stop the Silence – Stop Child Sexual Abuse: http://stopthesilence.orgStop

    PreventConnect – A National Online Project Dedicated to the Primary Prevention of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: http://www.preventconnect.org

    Prevent Child Abuse America: http://www.preventchildabuse.org

    UNICEF’s Child Protection Programs: http://www.unicefusa.org/mission

    International Society For The Prevention Of Child Abuse And Neglect: http://www.ispcan.org

    in: Dharma Topics
    Discussion Date: Thu, Oct 16, 2014


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