Boys, mom did everything right |

Boys, mom did everything right

The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center staff works year-round to educate children in local schools about how to keep themselves safe and protected. We also teach them to trust their instincts, and when they do not feel safe, to get away and to immediately tell a trusted adult about what happened. Often, those who molest children use fear and scare tactics to ensure that their victims will not tell others. Sex offenders manipulate their young victims by telling them that if they were to tell an adult what was happening, nobody would believe them, that everyone will know it was the child’s fault, or that they will injure or kill the child or his/her family. To a small child, these threats, coming from an adult, are very real and scary, and are often effective in silencing children, ensuring ongoing abuse. When children have the courage to tell an adult about what they have experienced, in the face of such terrifying threats, it is imperative that adults believe the children, and take action by reporting the situation to the authorities.

A recent article told the story of two young boys who went to the restroom at a local casino, only to have their privacy violated by Jason Kyle Helton, who was sentenced to a year in jail for attempting to secretly photograph the boys while they were using the urinal. This man received jail time for his offense only because the boys trusted their instincts and immediately told their mother about what had happened. She believed her boys and immediately reported the incident to security, which was able to briefly question the offender. Unfortunately, he then fled, but he may never have been identified and apprehended a few weeks later were it not for the courage of the two boys in telling their mother, and for the good sense of the mother, who believed her boys’ story about the strange man with the camera in the bathroom and sought immediate assistance. If the boys had not trusted their instincts and the mother had not taken action, Jason Kyle Helton may have traumatized many others before he was apprehended.

According to a Feb. 15 article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, attorney Todd Young, representing the offender, asked the judge to “consider whether any harm was done to the boys” since they “weren’t touched” by the offender. Mr. Young went as far as to put words in the boys’ mouths, years from now, when they might say, “When we were kids; there was some weirdo in the bathroom who stuck a phone camera under the wall and took our picture.”

The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center would like to remind the public that the courts and laws in the state of Nevada put this man behind bars for his criminal and inappropriate actions. It is reprehensible for anyone to minimize any effects this ordeal may have on the child victims, today or in the future. While the boys were not touched physically, their lives were touched forever through their memory of Jason Kyle Helton’s inappropriate actions. The two boys, whose confidentiality has thankfully been protected by the courts and the papers, have lost a bit of innocence. Their sense of safety in the world, their right to privacy while using the bathroom, and their sense of decency have all been shaken through this traumatizing experience. Hopefully, these boys have had access to counseling services to understand that they did everything right, and that they are in no way responsible for the actions of a disturbed man.

– Anna K. Richter is grants manager for the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.

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