Protecting Your Kids
By Pam and Bill Farrel
Sexual abuse is almost a daily headline, so all parents need to have their eyes wide open to vigilantly protect their children from sexual predators. In 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex, we help parents be aware of this potential danger and be informed on various was to better protect a child from harm. The statistics are heartbreaking: 1/3 of all girls and 1/4 of all boys will be sexually molested between the ages of 4 and 9. Only 7 % of children are molested by strangers, 93% by people the child knows. Most molesters are male, typically over 30, (however more females are becoming aggressors). Most sexual abuse is by a family member or extended family member.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of sexual abuse doubles in a blended family. Step brothers and step fathers are statistically the most likely perpetrators (The most frequent type but least talked about is an older brother molesting a younger sister-- it is five times more common than the most publicized type: a father molesting a daughter). And the sadness of this is the cycle of abuse - the abuser is also often a past victim of child molestation himself. Other factors that raise the possibility of abuse are: those living in poverty and children with no father or an absentee dad.
Profile of a Pedophile
Law enforcement looks for an MO (Modus Operandi) or the method of operation a person uses to gain better access to the child. Look for:
- Pedophiles often have a specific age of child they target. Some prefer younger children, some older. He often seeks out children of the same age he was when he was victimized. Many pedophiles often prefer children close to puberty who are sexually inexperienced, but curious about sex. Often his environment or a special room will be decorated in child-like decor and will appeal to the age and sex of the child he is trying to entice.
- The pedophile will often be employed or volunteer in a position that involves daily contact with children. And it will often be in a supervisory capacity such as sports coaching, unsupervised tutoring, or a position where he has the opportunity to spend unsupervised time with a child. They could be chaperone camping or overnight trips; frequent video arcades, playgrounds or shopping malls; offer babysitting services; participate in internet gaming with children; join social networking websites such as Facebook, and other social media. They may frequent children’s events even if they have no children or grandchildren
- The pedophile often seeks out those who come from troubled homes or under privileged homes. He then showers them with attention, gifts, taunting them with trips to desirable places like amusement parks, zoo's, concerts, the beach and other such places.
- Pedophiles work to master their manipulative skills by first becoming a friend, building the child's self esteem. They may refer to the child as special or mature, appealing to their need to be heard and understood then entice them with adult-type activities that are often sexual in content such as x-rated movies or pictures. They offer them alcohol or drugs to hamper their ability to resist activities or recall events that occurred.
- Many times pedophiles will develop a close relationship with a single parent in order to get close to their children. Once inside the home, they have many opportunities to manipulate the children - using guilt, fear, and love to confuse the child. If the child's parent works, it offers the pedophile the private time needed to abuse the child.
- Pedophiles work hard at stalking their targets and will patiently work to develop relationships with them. It is not uncommon for them to be developing a long list of potential victims at any one time. Many of them believe that what they are doing is not wrong and that having sex with a child is actually "healthy" for the child.
- Pedophiles often take and collect photographs of victims while dressed, nude, or in sexual poses. He may collect a variety of child-adult pornography. Many of them also collect "souvenirs" from their victims. They go to great lengths to protect these collections.
Sex offenders can be tough to spot on the surface as some are married and hard-working, employed within a wide range of occupations, usually well-liked, can be well- educated and respected community members. A more reliable sign that you might be concerned is that he relates better with children than adults.
Pam and Bill Farrel are the Directors of Love-Wise.com and are the authors of numerous books on parenting including 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make and their newest 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex.