In the wake of Josh Duggar’s arrest, we have all heard a lot about how the family and cult enabled his abuse.
When you teach girls that it’s their fault and God’s will that they be assaulted, it makes things dangerously easy for predators.
This has earned the Duggars, particularly Jim Bob and Michelle, widespread and well-deserved condemnation.
But homeschooling advocates and fellow fundamentalists are also taking this as a wakeup call to protect their kids.
The homeschooling community in the United States is, well, a pretty intense bunch.
For every parent desperate to accommodate their child’s special needs, there are dozens who are anxious about their children being “exposed” to other students and ideas.
Part of that comes from an angle of personal control — such as in the case of the Duggars.
But in some cases, these parents who homeschool their children are under the impression that they’re keeping them safe.
Not just from meeting classmates and confronting history and science that the parents don’t want them to know about.
We all know that there are monsters in this world. A friend’s parent, a bus driver, a passing stranger, even a teacher could be a predator.
But the Duggar children were thoroughly homeschooled, to the point where many fans question what jobs they could get outside of their cult.
They’re not allowed to date (ever in their lives) or look at a normally-dressed woman, let alone left alone with any unfamiliar adults.
If anyone thought that this would keep Josh Duggar’s sisters safe from a predator, they were sorely mistaken.
Jacob Denhollander is an advocate for childhood sexual abuse survivors. His wife, Rachael, is also a survivor.
He grew up with twelve siblings in “the same homeschooled circles as the Duggars.”
And he knows exactly how Josh got away with molesting his sisters.
“Josh Duggar is in the position he is in because he was enabled and protected from consequences at every step,” Denhollander tweeted.
Josh was enabled “by his revolting parents and their patriarchal, dehumanizing theology.”
It wasn’t just getting away with it that made him this way. It was also the beliefs that were poured into his brain from birth.
In the early 2000s, when he was still a teenager, Josh molested five young girls.
He confessed to this and apologized. In 2015, he cheated on his wife.
Prosecutors accuse him of downloading photos and video of childhood sexual abuse in 2019, and he is currently awaiting trial.
Justin Holcomb is a theologian who studies sexual abuse.
“Let’s start with the bad news,” he stated on this grievous topic.
“There’s too many churches in that type of [homeschooling] movement that don’t have safeguarding policies and known-sex-offender policies,” Holcomb acknowledged.
“The good news is that in more and more churches,” making changes, Holcomb continued.
He explained that they are making changes “because of the #MeToo #ChurchToo movement years ago.”
Holcomb acknowledged that “the conversation about sexual abuse and domestic abuse has increased.”
“Stranger danger” and similar campaigns were very successful, for decades, in educating children that some adults have bad intentions.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of child abusers of any kind are either adult relatives or family friends.
When the danger is inside of the house, an illusion that family is always “safe” can be extremely dangerous.
But the danger is compounded in a sub-culture with extreme beliefs about sexuality, gender, and more.
Most children of the IBLP cult and the Duggar family totally lack the language to describe sexual abuse even if it happened to them.
They also lack the education about what sex is, instead knowing that they will likely be blamed if they become targets for a predator.
Sadly, our society and its priorities have fundamentally failed all of the Duggar children, and all other children within the IBLP cult.
A more civilized country would have made certain that these children were safe, and that they received real educations.
But at least this is a wakeup call to other families and communities who may realize that their extreme beliefs are putting their children in harm’s way.