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Sunday, 21 Apr 2019

Spotting A Predator

If predators looked a certain way or lived in certain areas, keeping our children safe from sex crimes would be as easy as avoiding the known.  Far more complicated is trying to identify the predators among us, present in every aspect of life: from the home to the school to the church to the playground—and all points in between.  Further compounding efforts to protect our children are some common myths like:

Some Common Myths

Myth: Child abuse is rare.
Abuse happens everywhere and impacts every demographic. It happens in “good” families and in “bad,” big families and small, in cities and rural communities, in homes, schools, and churches.

Myth: People abused as children become abusers.
This is only partly true. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that about 30% of adults who were abused and neglected as children will later abuse their own children. However, this “cycle of abuse” is not inevitable. While past abuse is one indicator for future abuse, it is not the only one. Some research indicates that if a child is able to disclose an incident of abuse early on and is supported by people who believe the claim is real, the child is less likely to become an adult perpetrator of abuse.

Myth: You can always spot a child molester.
You cannot assume someone is a child abuser just by looking at him or her. In fact, he is probably not that creepy guy down the street. More likely, abuse will be inflicted by a parent, a relative, or a child’s caregiver. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 86% of child abusers are parents or other relatives; nearly 54% are women, and 36% are between the ages of 20 and 29.

Myth: Children are resilient and bounce back from anything.
Children are resilient, but abuse and neglect have lasting and sometimes unidentified consequences. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who have had to be removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect suffer post-traumatic stress disorder at twice the rate of veterans of the first Gulf War.

Myth: It’s only abuse if it’s physical.
Nothing could be further from the truth. What you might think is simply sharing or exposing a child to pornographic materials or making inappropriate comments/jokes is indeed a form of abuse.

Myth: Children are usually abused by strangers.
The awful truth is that parents abuse, doctors abuse, teachers abuse, friends abuse, neighbors abuse, uncles abuse, law enforcement officials abuse, pastors abuse. Children are more likely to be abused by someone they know and trust rather than by a stranger. Many children are unable to tell they are being abused when someone familiar is the perpetrator. Disclosing what has happened (or is happening) to them also has a greater personal impact when it involves someone the child knows.

Myth: My child would speak up if he or she were being abused.
Parents should teach their children about dangerous situations and what to do in the event of one. But despite best efforts, there are a variety of reasons why children do not speak up, including having feelings of shame and fear. Not only should children be taught how to recognize if they are being abused and what to do about it, but they should also be made to feel safe and secure when reporting abuse.

Myth: Somebody else will probably report it.
Recurring child abuse and neglect is preventable, but someone must take that first step to end it. In fact, it is every adult’s legal responsibility to report cases of abuse.

Myth: Only men abuse.
Twenty to 25 percent of substantiated child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by women. That’s right—one-fifth to one-quarter. It’s estimated that females report only about 10 percent of their sexual assaults, but males (especially children) underreport their sexual attacks even more.  What that means is that if 20 to 25 percent of substantiated cases are committed by female perpetrators, the real percentage is likely somewhat higher due to the fact that males underreport female attacks at an even higher rate than females underreport male attacks.

Myth: Children never abuse.
Children and teenagers are sexually curious. Curiosity is a major trait of humans. Some teens use much younger children to find out about sex because they can convince these children to take their clothes off. Most teenage experimenters, as they get older, stop all sexual interactions with children.

Myth: The victim asked for it.
The most obvious manifestations of this "blame the victim" approach are rape cases. Women victims are too often blamed for being provocative, seductive, suggestive, for proposing, teasing, or just plain "asking for it" (Brownmiller, 1975; Keen, 1991; Russel, 1984). Men in this myth are seen as helplessly lusty, sexually frustrated beings, responding to sexually provocative women. Women in particular may feel guilty about violence done to them because they are taught that their job is to make men happy, by whatever means necessary. Many parents reinforce a "Boys will be boys, so girls must take care" approach, the message being that girls can avoid unwanted male attention if only they are careful enough. If anything goes wrong, it must be the girl’s fault. Blaming the victim releases the man who commits violence from the responsibility for what he has done. Friends or family may blame the victim in order to feel safe themselves: "She got raped because she walked alone after midnight. I'd never do that, so rape won't happen to me."

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