-I am probably well known and liked by you and your child.
-I can be a man or a woman, married or single.
-I can be of any race, hold any religious belief, and have any sexual preference.
-I can be a parent, step-parent, relative, family friend, teacher, clergyman, babysitter or anyone who comes in contact with children.
-I am likely to be a stable, employed, respected member of the community.
-My education and my intelligence don't prevent me from molesting YOUR child.
I CAN BE ANYBODY!
If you are just joining in today, please be sure to check out the other posts in this series. I am writing a long series on Child Sex Abuse, and welcome anyone and everyone to not only read what I'm writing, but link to it in anyway you choose. All information is coming from the works of Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S, Co-director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention.
Today, let's start with some things we know about child molesters. Things that YOU need to know to protect your children.
I think one of the most important things you can take from this post today, is the fact that a child molester can be ANYONE. Clients of The Center for Behavioral Intervention's Sex offender treatment program have included:
-A judge, a couple of lawyers, and three cops.
-Teachers, coaches and social workers.
-A couple of DHS (Child welfare) workers, and foster parents.
-A Legislator's son, a Pediatrician, and a local TV personality.
-Ministers, business people, truck drivers, and contractors.
-About 150 woman.
Those folks are the ones that have been reported, convicted and sentenced. Most sex offenders commit dozens of sexual crimes before they are reported, and abuse numerous children before they are caught. About 30% of reports result in an arrest, and 30% of arrests result in a conviction. Studies show that our current system only catches about 3% to 10% of the offenders.
Many people blindly feel that they can count on State or National Sex Offender Registries, but clearly this doesn't cover the threat to your child. First of all, it wasn't until 1996 that all 50 states had some for of Sex Offender Registration, and it only applied to offenders leaving prison from that time forward. All Offenders prosecuted and released BEFORE the registration was put into law did not have to register.
The State in which I live has had a registry since 1990. Currently, 1 out of every 108 men is a registered sex offender in my State. I don't know about you, but THAT FREAKS ME OUT! If we are only catching 3-10%, then in reality nearly 1 in 20 men may be a sex offender. Some studies think it can be as prevalent as 1 in 10 men. While I was unable to secure statistics for women offenders in my state, it is believed that anywhere between 5-20% of adult child molesters are female.
Why do people molest children? This is a question often pondered, and many theories are common. One of the most prevalent is the belief that people who molest children were sexually abused as children themselves. If this were completely true we'd have TWICE as many female offenders as male, since TWICE as many girls are abuse than boys. This simply is not the case. Studies range from saying 5% to 30% of sex offenders were sexually abused as children.
Another common belief is that those that sexual abuse children are doing it for POWER AND CONTROL. It really appears that this is a secondary issue. Offenders generally offend in situations where they can exert power and control in order to continue offending. However most of us would not molest a child just because we had a bad day or our spouse was mad or rejected us. I ask you this important question:
What would it take for YOU to have sex with a child?
Seriously ponder that question. While we all do things to make ourselves feel more powerful or effective, having sex with a child isn't one most people would choose unless they were attracted to children in the first place, don't understand how wrong or harmful it is, or just don't care. Most of us cringe at the very thought of that question, and simply can't stomach coming up with a scenario in which we would sexual touch a child. THAT is what separates us from the offenders.
Child molestation isn't the kind of thing where people wake up one day and have something wrong with them. Here's what we know, 3 out of 4 offenders start offending during childhood. In fact some studies report that 40% of all sexual crimes against children are committed by juveniles. Later in this series we will explore further sexual behavior between children.
I'll finish up today with the answer to the question, "Why do some people sexually abuse children?" :
-They have a sexual interest in children.
-They believe sexual contact with children is OK.
-Some feel they are expressing "love" by offending.
-Some don't care about the effect of sexual abuse on children.
THEY CAN BE ANYBODY!
Please join me next week when I'll be discussing the leading theory of HOW someone becomes a child molester, and much much more. I thank you for bearing with me during these awful, yet crucial posts. While they are hard to read, I do hope that knowledge is power.