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How to Spot a Child Molester

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A little while agoI took a class at my Church that was required of me before I could volunteer at Vacation Bible School this year.  I was interested to see what they had to say at Virtus {the name of the class} versus what I already knew about the subject.

The subject being child molesters and our children. And how to spot a child molester.

how to spot a child molestor

A scary, unfair, awful topic that gets talked about a lot from afar.   I do not think I have ever had a conversation about this topic with any of my friends face to face.  But I have heard comments in passing and on television and taken in what I can from that.

But in reality, is any parent really truly aware of child molesters and how they operate?  Could any of us really spot one if we were out and about with our kids?

This class was eye opening, sad, scary, frustrating and incredibly educational.

Because I never want a single child to ever go through that horror, I thought I would share what I learned.  I have even make this topic a 2 part post.  One for spotting a molester and one for spotting the warning signs in our kids.

First, did you know that 1 out of every 5 adult females say they were molested and 1 out of every 10 adult men say so as well?  Heartbreaking, isn’t it?   And they are not molested by the stalker in the neighborhood that we are all looking for.  Then one in the beat up car, a hat on to disguise his looks, slowly driving up and down, watching and lurking.

89% of molesters are people who are known to the family.  A family friend, a teacher, a priest, a counselor, their friends parent.  And, sadly, 29% of those are family.  A parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin.

And they are not all male.  One of the victims stories was that her female English teacher lured her in under the guise of helping her with her schoolwork.  She would keep her after school and one thing led to another.   No one suspected a thing.  Teachers are there to, in fact, help kids, right?  And it was a female teacher… with a 12 year old girl.

One molester prayed on his softball team, the kids that came to his roller rink, and even kids that he worked at a daycare center helping to watch.  He favored 5-10 year old, thin, blond, blue eyed girls.   He was very hard to watch.  Especially after he admitted to molesting over 500 children in about 25 years.

5 0 0

And no one caught him.  All that time.

The other molester that chose to talk, undisguised, and openly on a video that would be seen by thousands, if not millions, lured kids in with his own kids.  He had three and they would make friends.  Those friends would come over for sleep overs and he would start his manipulative, detailed plan, to eventually take advantage of that child.  He surmised that he had 36 victims by the time he was caught.

Hard to read.  I know.  It was hard to digest.

But these men, in their horribleness, were doing us a favor in talking.  They were sharing with parents what to look for in a molester.  How to ‘spot’ one, so to speak.  Or at least be aware of what to look for.  It is a lesson I will, for sure, be carrying with me for the rest of my life.

I will try to remember them all for you guys:

The #1 point they made was – anything inappropriate at all should raise a red flag!

Look for people that prefer to spend time with kids over adults.  People in large groups who seem to be migrating towards groups of kids and kind of avoiding adults. This does not mean people who truly love children and want the best for them are molesters. Remember that these are just ‘signs’.

Watch for people who are offering children unsolicited gifts without your permission.   Usually an adult will ask a parent before offering their kids something.  I, personally, would be peeved if someone did that to my kids.  Socially Inappropriate so a red flag.

Make sure no adult is trying to get kids to a secluded place.  You might overhear, “Hey, let me go show you this picture in the library!”  No.  There is no reason, whatsoever, that an adult, other than a parent, should be behind closed doors with a child.  Whatever an adult needs to discuss with a child or show a child should be out in the open where others can see them.

Be aware of the chronic volunteer.  The one that, no matter what, is always first to spend a Saturday washing cars with the kids, or always a chaperon on a field trip.  One that is always at the school, church, or anywhere else, volunteering to be everything to everyone… especially if it is kids. Again, there are a lot of goof guys. This is just to keep you alert.

You probably get the idea.  The thing that really stuck in my head about this subject is that molesters tend to think that the rules do not apply to them.  So if you see someone who is clearly having no regard for boundaries and rules put in place to protect children, you should let your radar go off… and loudly.

I, personally, would rather be suspicious than find out later that I could have stopped a little girls or boy from living through that horror.  And I know that by voicing my fears does not mean I am labeling someone a molester.  I am just raising awareness that that person might be up to no good.

I also learned that strangers are rarely the molesters of children, that the vast majority of molesters are heterosexual with adults {not necessarily with children}, and a child is telling you the truth if they are telling you about abuse {approximately 5% will lie but only in custody battles, studies have found}.

It was a hard morning to sit through, I won’t lie.  But it was a necessary one for me, my family, and the other children that I am around.  I wish to God Above that all parents had to take this class.  I really think it is powerful enough to educate us and stop them.

I’ll leave this very long but important post with a story that the instructor shared that will resonate with me for the rest of my life.

He was teaching a class a while back and, when the video started, he heard a woman crying.  It was not new to him… people are emotional about these victims.  I teared up several times.  He noticed though that she cried through the video and became stone quiet during the discussion of it.

Right before the second video, she approached him and said she just could not watch the second video on how to keep kids safe.  He told her that she could not volunteer at the Church without it.  She said, ‘ I don’t care.  That man talking on the video was my daughter’s softball coach.”  She was referring the molester who fondled 500 children.

And she had no idea he was a child molester until she saw that video.

If that story does not kick you in the gut, I don’t know what will.

We need to protect our children.  I hope this info helps us on that path.

If you suspect an adult is abusing children, or know a child who has been abused who needs help, please call The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at

1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)

or call your local Precinct.

See Signs of Child Molestation in Children

Get more posts about Parenting and Daughters

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1603997249 Kim Watkins Poore

    These are all great “warning signs” but at the same time I would hate to see someone take some of these signs to extremes.  What I mean by that is I would hate to see someone accuse or gossip about someone just because they do one of these things.  Someone may over volunteer to do things with children for many reasons.  They may have lost a child and being around other children may bring them a little peace.  They may not be able to have children and volunteering may be just an outlet for their hidden pain that they don’t openly share.  Now saying all of that WE as PARENTS should ALWAYS be aware of what our children are doing and who they are doing it with.  So I do say it is great to be aware of things that can make you more aware of something a child molester may do but at the same time these signs can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of a paranoid gossip (and I am sure everyone knows someone who can be like that)

    • Anonymous

      I agree 100%. There are plenty of people who spend time with kids simply
      because they love kids and would never hurt them in their entire lives. The
      point of the instructor on this sign was that if someone is overly enthused
      and impatient to get around kids and acting “inapppropriately” in order to
      volunteer, it should be a flag. And gossip is a horrible thing. But as a
      parent, we all know what makes us ”feel’ uncomfortable. And that natural
      intuition should be acted on in some way. Unfortunately, the reality is
      that there are people among us who fight there way to access to children.
      They are cunning and intelligent and manipulative to both children and
      adults. No one knows what makes a person do these things, but we can be
      proactive and less fearful to speak up if we are all educated on the
      realities of this horror.

      • Sweetnanny02

        People need to know thatevryone is a potenial harm to your child, big brother or sister, cousin, uncle mom, or dad. It is best to look out for your child. Be awre that it is not good to let all kind of people into your home unsupervised. Teach your children that these things may happen and the threats that will be made if they would tell. Develop special codes to communicate if someone does so much as make them feel ucomfortable.

        Im not telling you to live in fear, but I am telling you to protect your child greater than you protect your money, your woman, or your man.
        Your children are your responsibility. We live in a cruel world. Protect them, and teach them to protect themselves. Build up relationships with your children, and exstabilish bonds that can not easily be broken.

        I was molested at age 4 by an uncle, raped at 6 by a stranger and molested by another uncle for 6 years after that.

  • Shermanchristopher

    I completely understand the point of the training. However, in today’s world where parents particularly fathers in this scenario are being hugely pressured in their professional lives, the last thing I need as a father is to be concerned about people watching me and the amount of time I spend with my children.

    In my honest opinion I think we need to educate our children on this better. Instead of trying to pick out potential predators and somehow spot them, we need to educate our children that it is important that they alert us about this. If you think about the statistics that one coach molested 500 kids, and 499 of them said nothing? It is incredibly imperative to educate and build that level of trust with our children that they can come to us and tell us anything.

    The quote about looking for people who prefer to spend more time with kids than adults threw a red flag in my face. It seems incredibly wrong to encourage fathers to spend more time with their families and then look for the ones that prefer to spend time with kids rather than adults. Do I raise red flags because I go to work, and school then come home and spend it with my kids?

    I would go so far as to encourage more parental involvement with children. It was reiterated through out your piece that predators look to get children alone. The odds of a predator attempting this or getting away with it are enormously reduced if the ratio of adult volunteers to children was higher.

    Overall I understand the importance of this class to raise awareness on the topic. However when you see the statistics 36 kids or 500 kids I can’t help but think that we are running down the wrong avenue to solve this issue. I for one will continue to spend as much time with my kids working on building a relationship of trust where they can come to me with anything no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

    • Anonymous

      IN no way should a father – or mother – feel that they have to stop spending
      time with their kids and doing activities with their kids because they feel
      they will be accused. The whole point of the conversation, I think, was to
      use the word inappropriate. We all know boundaries and when you see someone
      crossing those boundaries over and over again, then instead of ignoring it,
      someone should alert someone. The man who molested so many said that he
      got caught because his last victim woke up in the middle of the assault.
      There is some conjecture that he molested when children were asleep or when
      they were unaware that they were truly being molested. Like, sitting on his
      lap while he put his hands in inappropriate places. The videos did not go
      into every detail to know the actual truth.

      I do think education of our children is KEY and I will be posting another
      post about that later this week. But the victims kept saying over and over
      again that they felt like they would be blamed or get in trouble… even the
      ones that had the, so called, close relationship with their parents.
      Children are children and we have to accept that we have to step up if
      warning bells are going off like crazy.

      As an example, one little girl was molested by her clergy and, after it came
      out in the church, many people came up to the parents and said that they
      suspected it all along. But no one said a word during the span of her
      molestation. That is the point of the class, I think. To be aware of -
      yes, getting children alone, number one – but also to pay attention to the
      signs that make you, as a rational, loving parent, uneasy.

      I wish that I had used better words in that paragraph. This was a 3 hour
      class I tried to condense 1.5 hours into a 1000 word post. I hope you’ll
      forgive me if I have not been very clear about my intentions to simply make
      people aware.

      Thank you for the discussion… I think it is badly needed today!

      • Christopher Sherman

        I think that this is a very sensitive subject for many
        people. It is not easy to bring it up in casual conversation. However the only
        way we can see change is to discuss it and bring it to light. I re-read my
        earlier post, and I think I came off a little more critical than I meant too.
        It is my personal belief that as a father it is my job to protect my family and
        to ensure their safety through life. I know that this may seem marginally chauvinistic,
        but I don’t think I could live with myself if something ever happened to anyone
        in my family.

        I do applaud you for bringing this topic to light and
        helping to keep it at the forefront of peoples’ attention.

        • Anonymous

          I did not feel your comments to be in any way too harsh or offensive. I saw
          them as an honest reaction to a very sensative subject. I applaude YOU for
          giving me a chance to more clearly expalain the lesson. My husband, too,
          does an amazing amount with our kids and I never want that discouraged based
          on a generic fear. We all just need to be more alert. That was the point of
          the piece. I,sincerely,appreciate your comments and the discussion that it
          brings up!

  • Jrshort

    Wow thanks for sharing.  Great info.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for reading!

  • Anonymous

    dear goodness, that last one kicked me in the gut hard

    • Anonymous

       Yes, it did me too :(

      • Anonymous

        i’ll be making a point of forwarding ppl to your posts for sure. I was going to do a post today but i didn’t get around to it so expect to see it by next week sometime lol; i’ve been all over the place these days but i swear i’ll spread it around lol!

        Eschelle Holly Westwood

        http://www.mumfection.com
        http://littlefatgirl.blogspot.com/

        • Anonymous

          Thank you hon. Take your time. Part 2 to this discussion should come
          sometime this week…

  • Anonymous

    dear goodness, that last one kicked me in the gut hard

  • Anon

    It’s pretty amazing that your church gave this course and managed to glibly ignore the fact that a large number of abusers and molesters are CLERGY members. Or are you not sharing that part of the course? (I believe it was missing from your class, based on your very detailed rendering of what you learned…)
    Teaching children to be blindly agreeable to authority figures (such as clergy members) and to avoid questioning adults is a serious risk for molestations.  Add in the risk of the wrath of God or the risk of being sent to ‘hell’ for disobeying.   I am sure that this comment will put you on the defensive, but before you get really upset and angry– try to step out of your religious mentality and look at the FACTS about who is molesting children.
    Rather than freaking you and your class out, I think your church would be better served in making certain that religious clergy members are screened and watched better– and that churches DO NOT cover up or defend for their child molesters… that would take us a long way towards reducing the #’s of incidents of molestations.

  • Kristi

    Thank you for this post.  It’s such an important, and sensitive topic.  

    The only thing I found in disagreement is the statistic about children who lie.  I’ve known a few cases where a child (usually an older child or teen) got upset at an authority figure (teachers, ect.) and absolutely ruined their lives with false accusations.  I really think we need to be teaching our children the dangers of crying wolf as well.  It does nothing but hurts everyone around them, including the children who truly are being hurt and aren’t being believed, or at least, not in time.  

    • Anonymous

      Someone in the class did mention that they had heard stories and such of
      teens lying about it to get attention and to cause harm intentionally. The
      instructor did say that those cases were included in the 5% but the vast
      majority are due to child custody cases. It bothers me to no end that
      someone would falsely accuse someone of something so awful on purpose… no
      coerced… hatefully.

      Thank you for your comment!! I hope that your cases were, indeed, very
      rare…

      And I agree… it should be common knowledge that when someone is accused,
      at least in TX, that is it. You are marked for life.

  • http://www.boobiesbabiesandablog.com Boobies

    I have goosebumps reading this. Thank you so much for sharing this information…as a mother, this is one of my nightmares. You can NEVER be too safe!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for reading it! This subject is defiantly a goose bump maker!

  • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles

    I have chills.  This is such an important post.  Thanks for the reminders that we need to be vigilant at all times.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment. Yes… chills for
      sure…

  • Anon

    I am going to leave my information off here, but I was molested over the course of 7 years by a relative. Perhaps the single deepest wound in my life. It has literally taken years to seek healing, and only through Christ and the love of a godly husband have I brought back stolen parts of myself. Now, as a mother of two young girls, I will tell you that if ever, ever, ever you have an uncomfortable feeling about someone, remove your child from that situation. I don’t care how family or friends might react, my children will not live through my personal hell. Over the last few years, I have had a few “gut feeling/red flags” raised, and will not let my girls in the same room with the people who have made me feel that way. As a victim, my senses are heightened and even the smallest tingle of doubt will make me go into defense mode. I know some friends and family get annoyed with it at times (when I restrict guests and such) but it is too high of a price to pay for me.

    • Anonymous

      I stand up and applaud you on your courage to share this comment. And my
      heart breaks for you for what you have endured. I agree that it is better
      to err on the side of caution and that instinct are sometimes our only
      defense for our children. I hope we all rely on it… no matter what others
      say!

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  • Anonymous

    just wanted to send you a heads up on my post relaying this post lol

    http://www.mumfection.com/2011/06/post-of-great-importance.html

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for sharing this. It means a lot to me!

  • Anonymous

    just wanted to send you a heads up on my post relaying this post lol

    http://www.mumfection.com/2011/06/post-of-great-importance.html

  • http://www.marketingwitchcraft.com Patrysha

    Awareness is awesome, but you have to remember to not let it take control of your life and interactions. Life truly is too short for that. So don’t get scared, get educated and prepared. I highly recommend Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker…learn how to protect your children without living life on the edge of worry :-)

    • Anonymous

      Oh thank you Patrysha for the suggestion! I have calmed down since the
      class and am not on guard 24/7 but am glad that I feel a little more
      educated in what to be aware of! Thank you for coming by and commenting!

  • N Zanatta

    This is a great, informative post. Before I was a blogger, I was a therapist for at-risk children and I think you hit some really great points.  People assume that strangers are more like to molest, etc…, but sadly that is not the case.  Thanks for getting the word out!

    http://www.greatcontradictions.com

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for reading and responding! I appreciate it!

  • innocence lost

    i would begin by stating that i was a victim as a child. the damage done included confusion over sexual identity, being male and molested by a male, i could never reconsile how i could have allowed it to happen multiple times by multiple men. some familly some just “friends”. but looking back i kept wondering and till this day wonder how no one knew. back in the 80′s it wasn’t uncommon to let your children run around in the suburbs without supervision. however the first man to molest me had no children of his own yet every child in the neighborhood went to his house. it was not uncommon for us victims to bring home new toys given to us by him. i remember that at one point he should have gotten caught because of a toy that he had given me. my mother found this gi joe he had given me and asked where i got it. i told her truthfully. she dragged me to his house with the toy in question. when he answered his door he denied ever having met me and suggested that i might have stolen it from a friend. i was punished for lying and stealing. he got away with it. i was 5.  parents need to realize that pervs are every where,being suspicious and asking questions is only one part of what needs to go on. keeping track of new items in thier kids  possesion and where they came from is another. kids if asked might lie or cover up where they really got something so they can keep getting from that source, so follow up with the parents of your kids friends or where ever they say they got something that you can’t account for.

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  • the secret keeper

    I’ll start with saying I do not enjoy reading these stories. I can never get through one without tearing up but this information is imperative! Growing up, there were no lessons about “good touch, bad touch” or how to tell a loved one that you feel uncomfortable about something. I was molested by the one person I thought loved me, my father. I was so confused! I didn’t know what to do or who to tell. I loved my dad so much that I couldnt understand why he was doing it to me. Was I bad? Did I say something wrong? Maybe my shorts were too short. I felt alone, so I stayed silent. I stayed silent for 2 years. It wasn’t until my grades dropped, I wasn’t sleeping and didn’t to talk to anyone that CPS was called. I wish I knew then what I know now.

    • LoriPace

      Many ((((HUGS))) for your ordeal. It is a very scary subject but – maybe – if we talk about it enough, stories like yours will nor be created again! Thank you for sharing!

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