The Sad Case of The Duggars

The Duggars And Sexual Molestation

Posted May 22, 2015

I must start this article by acknowledging that I am first and foremost a clinical psychologist who has worked with victims of sexual molestation,perpetrators and other members of the family who are affected. I am not an investigative journalist. I have worked hard to get time frames and details of this sad case correct but please forgive me if my data is not 100% correct. My goal is to shed light on why the occurence of sexual molestation in this family does not surprise me.

The Duggars of TLC's 19 Kids And Counting chose to have an absurdly large family and then to further isolate these kids by home schooling them. My guess is that since they are a religious family they did not want their kids exposed to sinful activity and discussion inconsistent with their ethical and religious beliefs. I get this. The problem with home schooling is that your kids lack exposure to norms of behavior that they might otherwise learn outside of their family. In this case, Josh Duggar the eldest son and reported molestor, may have learned about sexually appropriate behavior if he had socialized with other young teens outside of his home. Clearly, his education about this behavior was lacking in the home in which he was raised.

Having 19 kids is a dangerous choice for anyone. How could Jim Bob and his wife Michelle possibly have expected to keep a close eye on what was going on in the home when they had a family the size of a classroom? Michele was also constantly pregnant and taking care of newborns. My guess is that the older kids got lost in this family recipe.

It is reported that Josh Duggar molested at least 5 minor girls when he was around 14 and that at least some of these girls were his sisters. The girls,according to a police report of 2006, filed by one or more of the victims explains that Mr. Duggar molested these girls while they were sleeping. It is unlikely that they slept through this although they may indeed have been in their beds.

Michele and Jim Bob apparently were aware of the police report but according to news reports waited for approximately a year before taking Josh to the Christian ministry for counseling and to engage in physical work. We in the mental health field know that child molestation is difficult to treat and is best treated in a clinic that specializes in this area and that removes the molestor from the home during this treatment.

This scenario is a tragedy for everyone involved. I hope to God that Josh Duggar goes on to get treatment now that the family skeletons are out of the proverbial closet. Apparently he has multiple small children of his own who we do not want to be his next victims. It would also be extremely beneficial for Josh Duggar to get treatment where he learns how to control his impulses and learns about appropriate boundaries. He,too, is a victim as well as a perpetrator. We do not know if Josh was ever sexually abused but if so he must discuss this during his treatment.

I am sorry for this tragedy but it should serve to remind us that we as parents must be vigilant and mindful of what is going on not only outside of our homes but also within our homes.