There's a scene in the movie Aliens in which the little girl, Newt, asks Ripley why grown-ups tell kids that there's no such thing as monsters, the evidence on Planet LV-426 being to the contrary.
I found myself thinking about that scene this week because I've told my kids that there is no such thing as monsters.
Like you, I'm beyond horrified by the allegations of child sex abuse coming out of Penn State University this week. My feelings on this issue have crossed the borderlands into Repulsed to My Very Core with brief sorties into Our Species is Pure and Utter Horseshit.
My heart breaks for the victims, knowing that their lives are forever scarred, their souls poisoned by the horrific acts perpetrated upon them by this
And it's yet another reminder that when we tell our children that there's no such thing as monsters, we are lying to them.
There are monsters out there.
These monsters don't have big fangs or giant, razor-like claws, or cloven hooves. They don't flap big black wings or live underground or have acid for blood.
They look like you and me.
They are smart and friendly and successful and they come cloaked in the false threads of good cheer and altruism.
They embed themselves into the lives of disadvantaged youth and get appointed to boards and commissions and they buy them football tickets and cotton candy and take them on camping trips.
They twist and manipulate the trust placed in them to their own horrific ends.
They keep doing it until they are caught. Because child predators never stop on their own.
I don't care what went wrong inside their brains, what made them snap.
Make no mistake. They are monsters.
Now, if you're a regular reader of the blog, you've probably gathered that I'm a worrier by nature.
A writer more eloquent than me once wrote that if you're a worrier, it's because you're genetically programmed to be a worrier. So you might as well not worry about it because there's nothing you can do about it. But because you're predisposed to worry, you will worry about it anyway. (I think it was Bill Bryson, but I'm not 100 percent sure about that).
And it's stuff like this that makes me worry. It's the price of admission to parenthood.
Actually, it's the price of admission to adulthood, because even if you don't have kids, we all bear the responsibility.
We must remain vigilant, almost suspicious, of any adult that enters a child's life. Because how many times have we heard this refrain? I never thought he was capable of something like this. We must have the "Bad Touch/Good Touch" discussion. We must remind children that this is never, ever their fault.
We must give a shit about what we see going on around us because to not means more victims, more suffering, more ruined lives. Because, as if the abuse wasn't bad enough, it appears a culture of human fuckery pervaded Penn State, a culture that allowed the abuse to continue for years.
So I apologize to my kids, your kids, all kids.
There are monsters out there.
I hate it.