Keeping Our Children Safe from Sexual Abuse

Keeping Our Children Safe from Sexual Abuse

I recently attended an ATSA (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) conference in Denver, Colorado in order to increase my knowledge of best practices in developing a comprehensive sex offender program, and the role of prevention and education in increasing public safety. Over the past few decades a tremendous amount of research has been conducted to understand and address this issue and although a lot of progress has been made, there continues to be much more to learn.
Despite headlines that might lead one to believe otherwise, a study issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011, indicates that both the physical and sexual abuse of children have decreased significantly over the past 20 years. The problem is that even with that decline, 6 million children were abused in the United States in 2010, and 9.2% of those children were reported as victims of sexual abuse.

Although a means for tracking known sex offenders, public registries and community notification is not enough to keep children safe. As a matter of fact, placing known sex offenders in situations where they are subjected to rejection, public ridicule and humiliation increases the chance that they will reoffend. That does not mean that the public does not have the right to know that a convicted child molester is living in their community. It is how that information is used that can make a difference in whether or not an individual will reoffend. Unless more resources are dedicated to the treatment of victims and abusers, the management of sex offenders, and the prevention of child sexual abuse through effective education for children and their caregivers, cases of sexual abuse will continue to plague our society.

Research tells us that the majority of children subjected to sexual abuse are victims of family members and/or acquaintances, and not by individuals unknown to the child or his/her family. Research also tells us that not all child molesters are pedophiles. This in and of itself makes protecting our children from sexual abuse all the more difficult. The fact is that about 60% of children who are sexually abused fall prey to what I will call “opportunistic bastards”. These individuals do not have a fetish specifically directed toward children; their fantasies lie in other areas, but are visited upon the most readily available victim.

All child molesters fear exposure and children must be taught to tell if anyone asks them to keep what happens between them a secret. As a society, we have failed miserably in teaching and enforcing age appropriate boundaries, and child molesters are more than happy to take advantage. Sadly, some children never have the opportunity to tell since their abuser’s psychopathology includes willingness, if not desire to kill.

The days of “Stranger Danger” are no longer enough, and neither are posters and educational approaches that give children and their caregivers the false impression that a child molester is a dirty old man in a trench coat, lurking in the bushes. The fact is a child molester cannot be categorized by any physical attribute or “bad” character trait. Many are well known and respected members of the community, well adapted in the art of winning people over and appear to be dedicated to their community and its children and youth.

A big thank you to Vicky for this excellent post!

Please feel free to discuss this very important issue and offer your opinions on how we can all help to protect our children.

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21 Responses to Keeping Our Children Safe from Sexual Abuse

  1. Vicky~~I am not quite sure of what I think of the following…
    As a matter of fact, placing known sex offenders in situations where they are subjected to rejection, public ridicule and humiliation increases the chance that they will reoffend.

    Since statistics show that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated and will reoffend, how are these sex offenders supposed to be treated? They should be treated with public ridicule and humiliation and be made an example of. The sex offender has no problem humiliating their victim. I would like to see all sex offenders wear GPS monitors. This may curb their impulses to attack a child for their own sexual pleasure. I am all for treating them with female hormones.

  2. Newbie says:

    Personally, I would like to see child molesters receive life sentences. Also, any adult who did nothing after a child went to them, should receive a nice stiff jail sentence..
    Now with that being said, I wonder how many offenders would kill their victim in an attempt to protect themselves. Vicky, did they talk about? And, what programs are available to “help” an offender?
    Lord, my blood boils just thinking about this.

  3. Newbie says:

    ##Vicky, did they talk about that?

  4. Hi Newbie~~this makes my blood boil too.

    I would like to see women who bring registered or known sex offenders into their home as a live-in boyfriend and if she has minor children be charged with child endangerment. This is even if no sex offense has taken place of that child/children. That should also go for woman who allow these sex offenders to babysit their children. I would like to focus more on PREVENTION. It is not just men who are sexually abusing children. I wonder how many females are registered as sexual offenders. This can be applied to some school teachers who have sex with minor male students.

  5. Vicky says:

    Ok, here goes.
    First of all, let’s not forget, women can be sex offenders too. However, there has been little research conducted about them.
    Second, it is possible for any sex offender to kill the child they have abused, but the majority of those individuals are the opportunistic bastards I referred to above. Additionally, those who kill have most likely had fantasies about killing prior to offending. They are no different in that aspect than any other person willing to kill in order to cover up a crime or live out a fantasy. Additionally, for this type of sex offender, the molestation is a most often a crime of opportunity, and could just as easily have been an adult victim. I hope this makes sense. Sex offenders who abuse children fall on a continuum and not all of them are preferential offenders.
    Now to address the humiliation issue. QMHPs are able to fairly accurately assess the level of risk an offender poses based upon a detailed and fairly extensive evaluation of the offender. Emphasis on a qualified mental health professional. Not some fly by night, hang up your shingle because you have a degree in psychology. There are most certainly abusers who should be locked away until the day they die. However, with appropriate supervision and supports, it is possible for a pedophile or hebefile to control their desire to molest children. It is a conscious effort, no different that a heterosexual who makes a decision to become celibate. Early identification is key. preferably before the individual has found the opportunity to molest or at the very least before they become a repeat offender. There has been a lot of research conducted on paraphelia, which includes pedophiles and with proper treatment, which includes medication, preferential offenders can be effectively treated if they are detected early and are allowed to live “normal” lives following identification and/or incarceration. Stress is a major trigger for offending and reoffending, so public humiliation places children at greater risk. Keep in mind, pedophilia falls into the same classification as homosexuality. The major difference is that same sex relationships by consenting peers and/or adults do not take choice/consent away from one of the individuals. Therefore, there is no way to reconcile an adult acting upon a sexual attraction to a child. These individuals must be closely supervised and managed upon release from custody. It is extremely important that they are held accountable in such a way that they will self report if they begin to find themselves falling back into prior patterns of behavior. They require a non offending sponsor who will assist them with seeking proper treatment if the desire to reoffend becomes an issue.

  6. Vicky says:

    By the way Newbie. In the State of Kansas, the majority of sex offenders who rape or sodomize a child under the age of 14 receive a mandatory life sentence under the most recent sentencing guidelines.
    I would also like to add that, for whatever reason, incest rape is not treated the same in most states as child molestation.

  7. Vicky says:

    Oh, and Snoopy, I agree. No known child sex abuser should be allowed to live in a home with children. It is morally reprehensible and places the child at risk for abuse and the offender at risk to reoffend. A child sex offender is fully aware of the risk posed by living in an home with children and are knowingly placing children at risk when they choose to do so. Especially a preferential offender who moves in with a person with a child in their preferred age range. If that occurs, IMO both adults need to be charged with reckless endangerment, regardless of whether or not a child is harmed.

  8. Vicky~~well they have date rape drugs and also viagra, in fact they have meds for just about everything.

    Now sex offenders can have a choice, a lenghty prison stay or chemical castration. So what if the drug does have some side effects. What about the side effect a child has to endure after being sexually molested. Personally, I would like to see them have the full castration. Read on…

    Chemical castration involves the administration of anti-androgen drugs, such as cyproterone acetate or the birth-control drug Depo-Provera, which is given as an injection every three months, making compliance easier to track. The antipsychotic agent Benperidol is also indicated for this purpose, and can also be given by depot injection as a means of increasing compliance.

    Effects

    When used on men, these drugs can reduce sex drive, compulsive sexual fantasies, and capacity for sexual arousal. Life-threatening side effects are rare, but some users show increases in body fat and reduced bone density, which increase long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. They may also experience other “feminizing” effects such as gynecomastia (development of larger than normal mammary glands in males),[6][7] reduced body hair,[8] and loss of muscle mass.

    Objections

    Although chemical castration is presented as a humane alternative to lifelong imprisonment or surgical castration, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the coerced administration of any drug, including antiandrogen drugs for sex offenders. They argue that forced chemical castration is a “cruel and unusual punishment”, and therefore should be constitutionally prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. They also stated that it interfered with the right to procreate, and could expose users to various health problems.[4] Law professor John Stinneford has argued that chemical castration, by exerting control over the mind of sex offenders to render them incapable of sexual desire, and subjecting them to the physical changes caused by the female hormones used, is a cruel and unusual punishment.

    Read more here at source…

    Chemical castration

    I think any child who is molested is cruel and unjust. I wonder about some of the people who enact these laws???

  9. Judge blasts mother of abused children….would you believe one person felt sorry for this mother and found this judge offensive…take note of how the mother is dressed for a courtroom..

  10. Vicky says:

    Most Sex Offenders who want to be released from custody and who are serious about treatment volunteer to take hormone treatment. Another useful tool is frequent polygraphs.
    Please keep in mind, my major interest is prevention and education. I am in no way a sex offender advocate, per say. I just have to get used to the reality that child molesters are among us and advocate for the changes needed to keep children safe from harm.
    The idea that a child could be molested because people fail to understand the circumstances that can lead to it happening is unsettling. I’m glad I am not the person sitting in a room providing treatment. I much prefer educating community members parents and children, and a few elected officials along the way.I look at it this way, if a sex abuser is unable to control his/her impulses, then society needs to figure out ways to prevent them from having the opportunity.
    There are several things parents can do. Like never leaving their child alone with a non parent/grandparent, unless they are absolutely certain that person is safe. Never allow a child to walk anywhere alone. Even right down the street. Pay attention to the attention adults and in some case teens are paying to their children. Teach children to respect their “private parts” and to never allow anyone to touch them they are uncomfortable, in exchange for a gift, if it is a secret touch, etc. Take notice if a child suddenly has a change in behavior that is not developmentally appropriate. Teach children to tell if someone touches them or another child.

  11. Vicky ~~I think they should start screening more Scout leaders/Cub Masters/Coaches/Priests/Ministers/Teachers etc etc etc
    Incest is prevalant as in the Steven Powell case. His children grew up thinking it was natural to have sexual relations within the family. We know how that ended up. The court systems fail us, Steven will be released in May of next year to reoffend.

    If a person uses a firearm in the commission of a crime, we relieve them of their weapons, unless they murder and are convicted and sent to prison. A pedofile has a lethal weapon, his erectile. I say make his erectile dysfunctional.

  12. Vicky says:

    Below is a link to the names of seveal books by Jan Hindmun. I purchased two of her books at the conference I attended. “There is No Sex Fairy” and “A Very Touching Book”. Both are really good books, filled with useful information. I would highly recommend both to people interested in preventing child sexual abuse. I bought several other books as well, but they aren’t nearly as entertaining to read.
    http://janhindman.com/publications.shtml

  13. Vicky says:

    LOL snoopy. You have such a wonderful way with words.
    IMO, the key to this problem is figuring out a way to keep our children from becoming offenders. It is such a complicated issue. Not all abusers were ever abused. Pedophiles present with fixed diagnostic criteria by the time they are about 13 years old and will forever be pedophiles. The majority of child abusers will engage in sexual activity with adults. Interfamilial sexual abuse is the most common form of abuse. People who by all appearances are as close to sainthood as humans can be, sexually abuse children. It really is frightening to think about. I think that is one reason it has gotten so far out of hand. It’s much easier to live in a state of denial and assume that child molesters are readily identifiable monsters, hanging around playgrounds hoping for a chance to grab up a child and run away. It’s hard to fathom that people in positions of trust would harm a child. We can’t keep children in a bubble, so we need to teach them how to protect themselves, while doing our level best to protect them using common sense and the resources available to us.

  14. Vicky says:

    In the process of preparing to write the grant I will be submitting to the Feds, I came upon a statistic that really surprised me. One of the largest groups of men incarcerated at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth is sex offenders, with the majority of them convicted of crimes against children. Pretty incredible, huh!?!?

  15. Vicky~~another contributor to more child sexual abuse is child pornography. It is a big money maker and now that technology has advanced, child porn is easy to produce and distribute. Families want to make some easy money so what are they doing? They are using their own children to make the porn. It is happening all the time.

    As far as incest within families, I know of a man who fathered 5 children by his own daughter. His wife knew it and so did the doctor who delivered a couple of those children. I think the old pervert father with his wife’s help delivered a few of them. The rural doctor turned a blind eye because he was a staunch liberal and many votes came from the perverts very large family and extended family. I, personally saw two of the children. One little blond girl’s face was deformed and the little boy did not have any ears. I was only around ten years old but I remember those kids as if it was yesterday. Would you believe that this same rural doctor was a senator who sat in the Parliament in Ottawa, Canada.

    We also had a pedophile Cub Scout leader. When he was found out, he left town. I don’t recall him ever being charged.

  16. Vicky~~the conference that you attended, was there any discussion on Child Protective Services. Maybe money should be spent in educating these CPS workers and have more of them out in the field. By educating these potential workers, set the qualifications to a higher standard and increase their salary to make those positions more attractive. To hell with spending money on trying to rehabilitate sex offenders…butcher knives come cheap or crimp the bastards.

  17. I absolutely LOVE that judge!! Did someone say she had another boyfriend previously who did the same thing?? OMG Thats sick. The children should be taken from the mother.

    Snoopy – That father of 5 was he someone that lived in the town where you were raised? Those poor kids never had a chance, I wonder what became of them? Can you imagine – what other physical issues they had? You only saw two of them I wonder if the others had health issues….geez they probably had big time mental health issues. Thats so sad and pathetic. I’m going to say it again. Those poor children NEVER had a chance – from the day they were born……. I’m surprised to hear the doctor was a liberal since here in America its usually the conservatives who shove it under a rug.. However a creep is a creep if his seat at parliment was bought with “favors” and bribes then it doesn’t matter what political party he is. He’s STILL a CREEP.

    About CPS….oh boy there’s a can of worms. How many times have we heard how badly they screw up? It isn’t just in Fla. In fact I bet every state has issues with theirs. They’re pretty bad out here in CA. many cases where children have died because of their poor job training.

    I think it goes beyond that though. I know that every single one of them is overwhelmed with cases, and some should flat out NOT be doing this job because they don’t have the personality for it or some become jaded after a certain amount of time. There seems to be a lack of desire to do the right and thorough thing with these case workers. They’re very bad at followup.

  18. Vicky says:

    No Snoopy, The majority of people there were PhD psychologists, probation/parole officers. Victim advocates, LE and people focused on prevention were also in attendance, but were the minority. The conference focused on research and collaboration between Treatment professionals and corrections. There was a track for those of us focused on prevention and education.

    The unfortunate truth of the matter is that it has only been since the late 80s that child sexual abuse has become a matter of public concern. Before that, and to some extent still to this day, child molestation was dealt with behind closed doors. I’m certain the Internet has provided a sense of empowerment to child molesters since they are able to find and support like-minded abusers, but it is also a useful tool for LE to find and identify them.
    The use of pornography is almost universal for the majority of sex offenders. Images depicting children (not always suggestive) are often used during the evaluation and treatment process to identify the type of offender being dealt with. Interestingly enough, there are times when “normal” male offenders (adult rapists) will become aroused when viewing adolescent female images, and pedophiles will become aroused when viewing adult images. In many ways, it depends on the way in which the female is photographed, what if any props are used, what they are wearing, etc.
    So, if a pedophile can’t get his hands on child pornography, they will search for adult porn that stisfies their need. Such twisted minds!

  19. Pippin~~sorry for not getting back to you sooner. In that film of the judge telling off the mother of the abused children, yes she had another live-in boyfriend. The did not go into any detail if he also abused her kids.

    I grew up in a small town in another province where everyone knew everyone else. Heck, some old biddies used to count the undies you had hanging on the clothesline so they would know how often you changed your panties. This pervert father lived in the village next to mine. I never understood about him fathering all those children until I was older. I do remember seeing them at a church picnic and probably asked my mom what was wrong with them and got shushed off. My parents believed that “children should be seen at not heard” but I did listen in to a lot of grown-up talk. I was nineteen when I married and moved away but many times I recall referring to my hometown and the neighboring villages as Payton Place.

  20. Vicky ~~I don’t know if you are still following the Jessica Ridgeway case or not. The DNA and body parts showed she was forcefully raped. What category would that 17yr old fall under? BTW, he is being tried as an adult but due to his age will not get the death penalty when found guilty.

  21. Back atcha Snoop. I didn’t get an email this time from your response – and I’ve been busy so this is the first chance I’ve had to get over here and check. (I don’t always check the notify follow-ups box)

    Yeah I figured that you wouldn’t have known the whole story as a child but when you got older somone told you. That’s how it was when I was a kid growing up in my suburbian neighborhood. There was this one house on our block where these 2 women lived and there were several children I think – much younger than myself and the other kids so we didn’t associate with them. I remember my mom and the other moms telling us to stay away from there. The cops would show up at that house about once a month or so. as kids we never knew why. They moved away when I was around 10 – 11. Years later we found out that the women were lesbians and one of them had the kids from a prior marriage and they used to fight a lot. hence the reason for the cops. One of the females was very butch looking but I never got the impression that either one of them was violent. I think they just probably threw things and yelled at each other because no one was ever hurt.

    I think they both drank somewhat but thats just a guess. Anyway, that was the reason we were told to stay away from them….but we never knew why. We had our share of other neighbors too that caused drama – we also had our own little “Payton Place” surrounding us. Most of them either moved away or died. My parents & 2 other families were the only ones left from the original homeowners that bought their homes there in the late 50’s. When mom died 4 years ago dad sold the house a week later and moved upstate florida so there’s only 2 left now.

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