The truth is, of the roughly 400,000 convicted pedophiles residing in the U.S., there is no clear profile.
The diverse profile of a child molester
They can be male or female, all age groups (even juveniles-who were often victims themselves), all races and ethnicities, and they come from widely varied professions representing about 44% of all occupations listed by the U.S. Department of Labor. This means an educated doctor is no less capable of being a pedophile than a GED level blue-collar factory worker. There are even organized groups of molesters that have been known to communicate important information, primarily over the internet, to each other about luring methods, child images, stories of successful assaults, and even law enforcement stings to avoid. Often times, the molester is a family member.
Child molesters are frequently repeat offenders. Interviews guaranteeing anonymity and immunity from prosecution in order to gain the most honest and accurate information revealed that male offenders who abused girls had an average of 52 victims each, but men who molested boys had a shocking average of 150 victims each1.
How child molesters operate
These offenders get to your children in a number of ways. They will often befriend parents, particularly single parents, to gain access to their children, offer to babysit, take jobs and participate in kid friendly events in the community, attend children’s sporting events, even offering to coach, volunteer with youth groups, offer to chaperone overnight trips, loitering in playgrounds, malls, game arcades, etc., frequent Internet gaming and social communities, and some even become foster parents.
The most common method is luring children who are desperate for affection. Numerous interviewed child molesters have stated, “When there’s a physically or emotionally absent parent in the picture, it makes the child more vulnerable than ever.” Perhaps you’ve heard the term “grooming” in reference to pedophiles. This is where they build up a trusting relationship, often with gifts, or by spending time with lonely or abused children, or those with absentee parents.
Who is most at risk
Statistically, the most vulnerable age group it children approaching puberty. Molesters take advantage of the natural sexual curiosity and inexperience. Combine this with parents giving children of this age more freedom because they are getting older, and you have a target rich community for the predator.
The most common time period for assaults, as you might guess, was 3 pm, when school lets. Other time frames that see a spike in assaults are the typical meal times of 8 am, noon and 6 pm. Most of these assaults happened in the home of the victim, the home of the offender, or another residence.
Even vigilant parents can be fooled by a child molester. They are practiced in appearing friendly, kind, engaging and just generally likeable. They are able to insinuate themselves into the daily life of the target child, by befriending the family, attending their church, being visible at sporting events, and even sharing a hobby. Like professional con artists, they are experts at gaining the trust of children and their families.
How you can protect your children
Keep lines of communication open with your children. Let them know they can talk to you about anything. Know what they are doing with their time, and especially on the Internet. Be wary of strangers who are a little too friendly, pay too much attention to your children, or try to insinuate themselves into your inner circle. Don’t leave your children with someone you don’t know well simply because you met them at church, or some other place you felt safe. Find resources that give parents advice on how to prevent an assault, how to talk to children about what is appropriate vs. inappropriate attention, how to recognize signs of abuse and who to call if you need to know more.
Our children are precious. It is up to us to keep them safe.
1 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics, by Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D.; National Center for Juvenile Justice, July 2000, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
This content was modified from an article written by Ken Wooden, with Rosemary Webb and Jennifer Mitchell, retrieved from: http://www.childluresprevention.com/research/profile.asp