I don’t follow the show, but I’ve definitely heard of the Duggar family and their show 19 Kids and Counting on TLC. You needn’t be a fan of the show to know the premise because the show’s namesake explains it all: Devout Christian couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 99 problems, and they all seem to be with birth control.
Jim Bob and Michelle have 19 children, 9 girls and 10 boys, and each child’s name starts with the letter ‘J’. They live in a 7,000-square-foot house and their reality show documents the family’s daily lives and their surprisingly organized, non-chaotic lifestyle. However, it seems now that the eldest Duggar child has been accused of molesting little girls, which was confirmed in the form of a public admission and apology.
In terms of their belief, the Duggars are Independent Baptists and adhere to the Christian patriarchy movement, which is an evangelical tradition that governs gender relations and socialization. Those who follow this movement see the father as the head of the home and is, interestingly, very common in households in which the children are homeschooled.
The first Duggar child, Josh, was born in 1988 when Michelle stopped taking birth control pills. They resumed birth control after Josh’s birth, but Michelle still became pregnant. This is when they decided they would not use birth control, letting “God” decide how many children they would have. As such, Michelle has given birth roughly every 18 months since the Duggars decided to stop using birth control.
Living a very conservative and modest lifestyle, the Duggars don’t allow their children to wear shorts or tank tops, girls cannot cut their hair short, and boys must remain clean-shaven. They don’t wear what they would consider to be “revealing” clothing so that the Duggars aren’t objectified by what could be perceived as their encouragement of lustful thoughts in others. Additionally, they practice chaperoned courtship, which means that when a Duggar child wants to date, the prospective suitor must meet with the father in order to ask for his permission; if the courtship is permitted, no physical touching of any kind is allowed and the lovebirds must be supervised.
As the Duggar children have gotten older, there have been marriages—Josh (27), Jill (24), and Jessa (22)—and some grandchildren brought into the mix. The family’s reality television career began when there were “only” 14 children, but now there’s 19 Duggar children and 4 Duggar grandchildren with 2 more grandchildren due later this year.
Growing up in the public eye can’t be easy. You have no secrets, have to constantly be “performing” and on your game, be cautious of everything you do and say. Even so, nobody is perfect, least of all the eldest Duggar, Josh, who has been accused of molesting little girls. In a recent tabloid, Josh Duggar was called out for molesting these little girls when he was in his late teens. In a statement yesterday, he apologized for his mistake.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” Duggar said on Facebook. “I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.
“We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
The police report that contains details of the incidents, which occurred in 2002 and 2003, has recently expunged the names of the victims for their own protection and and indicated that Jim Bob and Michelle knew of the incidents a full year before they reported them to the Arkansas authorities. It says that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had brought Josh into the Children’s Safety Center in Springdale, Arkansas, in 2006 to be interviewed regarding allegations that he’d sexually assaulted underage girls. There are five girls said to have been molested by Josh, and some of them were his own sisters. Despite containing Josh’s confession, no charges against him were ever filed.
In the wake of this revelation, Josh Duggar resigned as director of the conservative DC-based Family Research Council (FRC), which is known for its advocacy against same-sex marriage. TLC has only just today commented on the incident by pulling all 19 Kids & Counting reruns from the air. According to the website, the show won’t air again until June 1, presumably for the dust from this scandal to die down.
Statements have been made by Josh’s parents and his wife Anna, who had this to say: “I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock,” Anna told People. “When my family and I first visited the Duggar home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh, he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was—even every difficult past mistakes.”
“He continued to do what he was taught. [I know] who Josh really is—someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended,” she added. “Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.”
Child molestation really makes me crazy. I don’t condone murder, but I understand it. I also understand robbery, breaking and entering, and tax evasion. Again, I don’t condone those crimes and wouldn’t commit them myself, but I understand what leads people to commit them. Child abuse and molestation is something I can’t and will never understand. Animal abuse is another, but Josh Duggar hasn’t been accused of mistreating his pets; he’s accused—and has admitted to—molesting little girls.
I will say this: I applaud Josh Duggar for being a man and owning up to what he’s done. Many other people, especially those in the public eye, would try to shrug it off or would ignore the accusations or try to deny them. In this case, the victims are remaining anonymous, so it’s not like he’s being accused by the people he actually molested even though we know some of the victims were his own sisters. Despite the police report and the fact that such documentation would make it difficult to deny, he’s owning up to it by apologizing. For that, I give him a modicum of respect. However, he molested as many as five little girls, some of whom lived under the same roof, and suffering no consequences aside from only four months of counseling. Now he has three children of his own, one on the way, and aside from the media circus and a besmirched reputation, he has no record to show for his crimes.
Molesting children is disgusting and inexcusable. He was, himself, still technically a minor at the time being only 15 or so years old, but if a police report exists the victims would have been very young, and even being a teenager this crime is inexcusable. His parents should be ashamed for having known of these incidents for a year or more before reporting them. I understand wanting to protect their son, but not at the expense of the safety of their other children.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. It’s not like the Duggars are strangers to controversy, but this one is pretty significant. He’s already resigned from his position with with FRC, so I wonder if maybe he’ll no longer be appearing on the family’s show. Guess we’ll see.
Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and feelings on the situation.