o In spite of increased reporting most people imagine a child molester as some ugly, old or deranged man in a trench coat coaxing children to come to him in exchange for some candy. They do not think of Uncle Gus or Aunt Milly, the neighbor next door, the friendly clergy person, or trusted family friend. They do not think of mom, dad, cousins, siblings, grandparents or in the case of single parents, their significant other. These misconceptions are the only reason sex offenders can continue to sexually abuse children.
o The widespread misconception that child molestation consists primarily of children being seized from the street and forcibly molested is the lowest incidence of child sexual assault Although these incidents do occur, 99% of child sexual abuse survivors know their assailant, who uses their status and knowledge of the child to intimidate and persuade the child into submission and compliance.
o The most common response when I speak about the prevalence of sexual child abuse is in the form of denial: "I do not have to be concerned about that in my community. That would never happen in my family."
o Through numerous case studies, the Department of Justice has developed characteristics and behavior patterns of a pedophile. These characteristics and behavior patterns include, but are not limited to the following:
Is most often an adult male – 80% of children are sexually abused by family members – the father is the most prevalent followed by uncle or grandparent and step-father or significant other.
It is usually married.
Works in a wide range of occupations, from unskilled laborer, corporate executive, doctor, lawyer, judge or clergy.
Relates better to children than adults.
Socializes with few adults unless they are pedophiles.
Usually prefers children in a specific age group.
Usually prefers either males or females, but may be bi-sexual.
May seek employment or volunteer with programs involving children of the age of his / her preference.
Pursues children for sexual purposes.
Frequently photographs or collects photographs of his victims, either dressed, nude, or in sexually explicit acts.
Collects child erotica and child-adult pornography:
To lower the inhibitions of victims.
To fantasize when no potential victim is available.
To relive his sexual activities.
To justify his activities. (The depiction of others engaged in these acts legitimizes them in the pedophile's mind.)
To blackmail victims to keep them from telling.
May possess and furnish narcotics to his / her victims to lower their inhibitions.
Sometimes recognizes that he / she is acting inappropriately and understands the severity of it, but is unable to stop him / herself because it is a compulsion.
Goes to great lengths to conceal his illegal activity.
Goes to great lengths to present him / herself as an exemplary person; developing a persona of goodness above reproach, thus thwarting any suspicion of wrongdoing –especially against a child, whom they have judicially professed great care and concern. Michael Jackson is society's emperor with no clothes.
Rationalizes his / her illicit activities, emphasizing his / her positive impact upon the victim and repressing feelings about the harm he / she has done.
Often portrays the child as the aggressor. This usually occurs after the child realizes that by withholding "sexual favors" the child will obtain what he / she desires, such as new toys, clothing, or trips. Joey Buttafuoco, the Long Island body shop owner who gained notoriety in the 1990's when his teenage victim shot his wife; used the 'blame the victim' defense that she would not leave him alone, as if she were the adult and he a minor.
Talks about children as one would talk about an adult lover or spouse.
More often than not, sex offenders are child molestation survivors; frequently seeks out children at the age or stage of physical development at which he / she was molested.
Often seeks out publications and organizations that support his / her sexual beliefs and practices.
Usually corresponds with other pedophiles and exchanges child pornography and erotica as proof of involvement.
Is usually non-violent and has few problems with the law (pedophiles are more often than not respected community members).
To protect children from sexual abuse parents / adults need to know: What sexual abuse or incest is; What to do; and How to teach self-protection. Self-protection offers a direct and effective way to empower children to help themselves. Since the perpetrator cunningly and with forethought sets the stage to perpetrate this crime in secrecy, who is better able than the child to protect him / herself. Sex offenders say they can sense a child to victimize; they sense this by the child's demeanor, body language and facial expressions. Sex offenders choose victims who they assume will keep the secret. No child needs to fall prey to these cunning predators. If I'd Only Known … Sexual Abuse in or out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention is the one book every parent / caretaker needs to keep children safe. This book describes Seven compelling parent approved and child tested techniques to thwart would-be sex offenders.