Sex offenders come from all walks of life, age and from all socio-economic status. They can be male or female, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, religious, atheist or agnostic, doctor, lawyer, judge, police officer, educated or uneducated and any race.
o The perpetrator is known to the survivor in over 85 percent of child sexual abuse crimes–parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, sibling, friend, caretaker, coach, teacher, neighbor, or parent of playmate/friend.
o Strangers can be “good guys” or “bad guys.” (including females) Persons known to you or your children can be “good guys” or “bad guys.” (including females).
o We do a great disservice to children when we teach Stranger Danger and leave it at that. According to government statistics less than 1% of all children sexually abused are abused by a stranger.
o Sixty-seven percent of adults convicted of felony sex crimes in FY 1995 had no prior criminal history.
Many pedophiles seek out mothers of single parent families or uninvolved parents for the purpose of victimizing their children. For example: A Sports Illustrated article, September 3, 1999, issue, “Who is Coaching Your Kids?” regarding coaches sexually abusing boys on the team they coach. Thursday, October 21, 1999, Dateline rebroadcast a segment on coaches sexually abusing children. Friday, November 5, 1999, 20/20 broadcast a sexual abuse case from a small town involving a scout leader, who sexually abused several boys for more than a year. One coach in these cases stated he sought out single parent families or families where the parents were frequently absent from practice or games. “These children are starved for attention and I give them the attention they crave. I took them for ice cream after a game or shopping. It is astounding how parents seldom questioned my motives. If they do, I have a tailor-made explanation, which never fails to quell their suspicions.”
Other examples: The school teacher, who frequently stays after school to help a child with academic difficulties; a parent who takes time away from work to accompany the students on field trips; the grandparent who lavishes gifts when he takes the child for a fun outing, the neighbor who seems truly interested in your child.
I am not suggesting that everyone who extends him/herself to children is a sex offender. However, insidiously, perpetrators demonstrate the right, moral and exemplary behavior to develop credibility and establish proof of their love of children; these actions thus thwart any suspicion of wrongdoing.
Montel Williams on his show on November 11, 1999 exclaimed in exasperation “Why can’t we do something about this?” as he uncovered the details of a pregnant ten-year-old girl, who had been raped several times by her mother’s live-in boyfriend’s eighteen-year-old son. Although, this story may seem unusual and/or fodder for a dramatic Montel Williams show, it is sadly all too common.
Most sex offenders “groom” their victims prior to any sexual abuse for a period of months or even years. After gaining trust in the parents, the offender offers to baby sit the child or provide fun activities. During this time, he/she proceeds to groom the child. The perpetrator is aware that the child must be controlled to the extent where he/she can sexually abuse the child without fear of disclosure to another adult. This manipulation may be obtained in many ways: favors, threats, guilt, etc.
One mother revealed her husband played a tickling game with their three-year-old son. The rules of the game was such that it was fun–the son was instructed to tickle his father’s nipples while sitting in a straddled position over his father’s nude body from the waist up. The object of this game was, ‘Make daddy laugh.’ Of course, the father could withhold laughing until he experienced the sexual stimulation he desired. When the mother objected to this game, the father admonished her for being jealous of his time with their son.
Another mother was horrified when her three-year old daughter asked her to play the ‘pee-pee’ game. She asked her daughter to explain this game. Her daughter laid on her back on the floor, legs spread and said, “Touch my ‘pee-pee,’ Mommy, that is what daddy does.”
Why Sex Offender’s ruse works more often than not…
Sex offenders count on society’s misconceptions regarding their well-honed ruse.
As a society we vehemently condemn stranger child sex offenders, but when someone we know is suspected or accused, many people take sides often refusing to believe that “a pillar of the community” could commit this type of a crime. The true seducer type pedophile is extremely good at what he does. He puts himself in a position in his family or community where he has easy access to children. He will often work hard (sometimes for years) to gain the trust of family members or the community. If an allegation is made against this person by a child, it is often too emotionally difficult for families who love and trust this family member or trusted and allowed the accused into their home to believe that he could commit such an act against a child. Michael Jackson is a prime example of society’s refusal to acknowledge their error in judgment. The betrayal is too great and many families will not only deny the possibility, but will blame and defame the child making the allegation. This is what the offender counts on. Families tricked by cunning predators could not have possibly imagined the degree of betrayal possible and the extent that a predator would go to, to abuse a child.
Appropriate suspicion is the answer. See my Article, Protect Your Child From Sex Offenders–Practice Appropriate Suspicion