April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2014
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One-hundred-fifty children are abducted in the US each day—fewer than 10% of them by strangers. Abduction risk is highest from men known to the child and who have access—friends, relatives, babysitters, teachers, preachers….
Two primary types of child molesters are Stranger Abductors and Groomers.
Child abduction is a huge concern. FBI task forces, specialized local police units and numerous alerts are devoted to combating the problem and rescuing the child as soon as possible.
However, most people do not realize children are much more likely to be repeatedly molested by people known to the family and child-caregivers…people the children have learned to trust.
But the groomers are people in your home and places thought safe for kids. This most common type of pedophile preys on children by endearing themselves to both the family and child.
Groomers are typically males you learn to trust. They are child hunters who camouflage their actions. This allows them to victimize children and go undetected for years, some over a lifetime.
These child molesters exist in all professions and all levels of society throughout the world. They are teenagers, youth leaders, priests, cops, fitness and athletic coaches who gain your confidence before molesting your children. You may not believe they would do such a thing and disbelieve the child who has the courage to report the abuse. This allows victimization to continue. The child is abandoned to the pedophile.
Frightened children will often not disclose their abuse because they are ashamed or silenced by the abuser. The child may have experienced threats of violence against them or their family. Sometimes photos are used as blackmail. Predators tend to target needy children who may be lonely. Homeless shelters, single mothers and children in families where drug use is ongoing are at high risk. Pedophile boyfriends often target a single mom with children of the age they desire.
So what exactly is a pedophile? A mental illness in which mature males have an intense interest in sexual acts with children. The cause is unknown. Victims of molestation and violence do not necessarily become molesters…there is an entity called the cycle of abuse where some who are abused as children grow up to become violent against women and children. Some pedophiles use this theme as an excuse for their behavior. Most abused children do not, themselves, become abusers. As Andrew Vachess aptly stated: Evil is a matter of choice.
Neuroscience suggests functional abnormalities in two brain areas: the amygdala and the limbic system. The amygdala is crucial for stimulus reinforcement such as the fear response. The limbic system governs emotions. Studies are ongoing to identify determinants for pedophilia.
Are pedophiles psychopaths? Many of them are psychopathic. Like Nathanael Bar-Jonah, the pedophile whose life of crime is described in detail in my book Eyes of a Pedophile: Detecting Child Predators, they often portray the following psychopathic traits: No empathy for victims, no remorse, take no responsibility for their actions and are effective pathological liars. Bar-Jonah was so believable, mothers left their children in his care.
Is there effective treatment? No. In an 8 year California prison study on sexually violent predators, there was no difference in re-offense between no treatment and 8 years of intensive psychotherapy. Castration, removing all testosterone stimulation, is not curative. Desires and fantasies persist and they continue to victimize.
What are pedophile characteristics? Many of their behaviors are normal and only taken in accumulated actions does it become obvious the man is unusually interested in children and seeks out close friendships with them. Taken as a single action, the behavior may not be suspect or abnormal. Some examples are: offering to babysit, tickling, wrestling, gifting children repeatedly with expensive items, taking many photographs or unusual poses, home with a room devoted to children when he has no children, single, lives with parents, few friends…many more. One red flag is a single man who travels to hotspots of child trafficking such as SE Asia.
Free PDF Download of a common pedophile characteristics is available on this website.
How can we keep kids safer from molesters and abductors? Vigilance and reporting. If you observe 2-3 actions of concern, never leave your child alone with the individual. If your child reports inappropriate touching, REPORT THE ACTION TO CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES AND THE POLICE.
I have been accused by a few of preaching to parents about how to raise their children. Education is the road to success, but even knowing everything, bad things happen to good people who are diligent in their child care.
I am more sensitized to stopping child abusers than many because three of my relatives were victimized by pedophiles. Like so many pedophiles, none of the perpetrators went to prison because of failure to prosecute. The rapists must be reported and prosecuted. In recent years when so many victimized people have come forward and found acceptance, I hope more victims will report. Children are unlikely to report due to fear and feeling they will not be believed, especially if the pedophile is a prominent educator, family friend or church camp counselor.
Some broad topics for parents to consider:
Nearly half of offenders are relatives.
1:3 girls and 1:4 boys are victims –25% are less than age 5.
There is safety in numbers. Do not let children walk or bicycle alone.
Do background checks on babysitters. www.sexofenders.com
Talk to your children. Teach them appropriate touching.
Educate older children about Internet safety.
Child pornography is epidemic. Most child victims are under the age of 12 and as young as infants. It is illegal to possess, share and sell images. Pedophiles often store numerous pornographic images of children on their computers, and on their cellphones. Using the Child Recognition and Identification System at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they have rescued children, prosecuted perpetrators and seized child pornography collections in thousands of investigations. The FBI is working internationally with Europol/Interpol in their efforts to stop child trafficking. In the past year they have identified and broken a trafficking ring, saved numerous children and prosecuted both traffickers and rapists.
As an ER physician, I cared for many child victims and their families. Each time I do a presentation on the topic, many adults thank me for the information and many have reported their own sexual abuse for the first time. Reporting and obtaining counseling are helpful steps in the recovery process.
REMEMBER, THERE IS NO SHAME IN BEING A VICTIM.
THE REAL SHAME IS NOT REPORTING ABUSE BECAUSE THE ABUSE WILL CONTINUE AND MORE CHILDREN WILL BE HARMED.
PEDOPHILES NEVER STOP
For more information: www.childwelfare.gov
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EYES OF A PEDOPHILE: DETECTING CHILD PREDATORS
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