It Happens in "Nice" Families, Too: Seven Sobering Lessons We Can Learn from the Duggar Molestation Scandal

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 7/17/2015, 11:44 a.m.
Marianna Klebanov says childhood sexual abuse is far more common than most people realize. Now that TLC has cancelled 19 ...
The Duggars

"Victims of sexual abuse can experience shame and guilt and have lifelong difficulties in forming relationships," notes Klebanov. "Confusion over what happened, loyalty to the offender, and subtle pressure to be 'okay' with the event can all factor into a victim's insistence that all is well. Don't believe it. As a parent you must take every possible step to make sure that your kids are safe."

Current laws governing sexual abuse may need to be revised. Josh came out with his revelations after the statute of limitations ran out on his potential molestation charges in criminal court. This may imply a need to change some state laws on statutes of limitations. In California, the statute for filing civil suits on molestation was revised to include delayed discovery provisions. However, every state has its own approach, and the approaches may be different for civil and criminal suits.

Klebanov says that many well-meaning families have had to face childhood sexual abuse—and like the Duggars, many of them have made serious mistakes. In part, that's because so much shame and secrecy surrounds the subject.

"We must bring childhood sexual abuse out of the closet," she says. "It is a really difficult, complicated situation, and it's understandable that people don't know what to do. The more we can educate people on the long-term effects of such abuse, though, the more likely they are to make the tough calls. It's surely not easy, but the well-being of our children depends on it."

About Marianna Klebanov:

Marianna S. Klebanov, JD, is the coauthor of The Critical Role of Parenting in Human Development. She works as an attorney with a specialty in matters relating to child welfare and family violence. She writes a column for on issues relating to parenting, child abuse prevention, and brain development. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee of Family and Children Services, a large nonprofit organization focusing on mental health services. Klebanov chairs the organization's Program Committee, overseeing the board's relationship with the organization's mental health and counseling programs. She is the legislative liaison to the Board of Supervisors for the Juvenile Justice Commission and serves on the Child Abuse Prevention Council. Klebanov graduated with honors from Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in linguistics and earned her JD from the University of California at Hastings, where she served as a journal editor.

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