Why would someone not report allegations of child sexual abuse to the authorities or the police? Unfortunately, it’s all about undue influence*.

Child sexual abuse is a global societal problem, but did you know that many individuals and institutions use undue influence to manipulate and discourage victims or their care-givers from reporting these crimes to the proper authorities? Or, they delay reporting because they’re influenced to report abuse to clergymen first, who then consult with attorneys instead of civil authorities?

California is no exception to the widespread problem of undue influence, and I am no stranger to this problem. Most of my life was spent in a high-control group, subjected to what I’ve learned is undue influence.

I now realize that undue influence is at the root of how institutions handle child sexual abuse cases. I have personally experienced how natural love and common sense can be overwritten by high-control groups. This puts me in a good position to help answer the question, “Why would anyone intentionally fail to report an allegation of pedophilia?”

In addition, my life experiences help me see how anyone can become a member of a high-control group. This is why I am an advocate for practical and beneficial laws, which recognize the negative consequences of undue influence, and specifically, this is why Robert Atkinson, Barbara Anderson, my wife Karin and I started SCAARS.CA**: Stop Child Abuse: Advocates for Reform and Safety.

SCAARS is a metaphor for the healing process. Our scars define us. This is the principal challenge for those of us who have left manipulative, insular groups. Perhaps the most difficult thing we’ll have to address in our life outside these highly-controlling groups.

A significant goal for SCAARS is to promote the process of moving from victim-to-survivor-to-thriver, after a person has been victimized by child abuse. And now teamed with the Open Minds Foundation, we hope to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Changing laws in the State of California by introducing Fact Sheets, which correspond with statutes that need revision. Using California as a template, we hope to spark reform in other states and countries.
  2. Educating legislators about the effect of undue influence by clergymen and mandated reporters, who either fail to report, or defer to a parent organization for reporting purposes.
  3. Strengthening mandatory reporting requirements in California along with enforcing penalties for failure to report.
  4. Educating the public on how current mandatory reporting laws are insufficient and endanger children everywhere. Victims should not be harmed by predators and weak legislation.
  5. Creating a special edition of Barbara Anderson Uncensored with an Introduction to Undue Influence by Jon Atack. The target market will be legislators, attorneys and politicians around the world, and potential volunteers for SCAARS and ambassadors for Open Minds Foundation.

I also want to congratulate Romy Maple, Janja Lalich and Barbara Anderson for their contributions to the Elizabeth Vargas A&E Special on May 29. Raising awareness of negligent child abuse reporting policies will lead to changes in the law to better protect children.

You can access the special here. If your local cable provider subscribes to A&E, you can sign in online using your local access account and watch this episode.

Join us now, and help us change and create laws that better protect children from child sexual abuse!

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* One definition of undue influence: “Excessive psychological persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming the person’s free will, and results in inequity/lack of justice.”

** SCAARS.CA currently has a Facebook page, with plans for a corresponding website to be launched this summer.

Editor's Note: While we at OMF value all free expression of opinion, the views expressed by our contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OMF, its board members, or trustees.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Barbara’s book? Do you have a story about unreported abuse due to undue influence that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!