By Terry Carter, Editor
Even those who have been abused as children and learned how to cope in society often don’t know how to recognize the subtle signs of a sexual predator.
Today we will approach the subject and provide basic tips of what could raise your guard even among those you trust. This article is for parents and children to increase their awareness and safety. It is also the first of a series of articles on these overlooked topics.
Be aware that unlike many crimes, sexual predators are not restricted to a certain age range, socio-economic background, race, culture or profession.
Interviews and research data are overwhelming: Sexual predators look like our most trusted family and friends. They are among us whether we like it or not. It is better to be aware and cautious rather than become an eventual victim.
This is not a call for panic. It is a call for increased awareness because publicized cases are increasing, which may indicate that predatory behavior is expanding.
Learn the signs. Trust your gut. And report things to the proper authorities, including three levels of administration and the police, as well as Child Protective Services (CPS).
Predators, including pedophiles, blend into society as a concerned citizen offering help. They look good and sound good. They count on naîve, trust from those who know them well.
Life’s most fundamental relationship rule works here as you learn what to look for: Actions speak louder than words. It works in relationships, friendships, work environments and even if you have a predator living with you today.
Choose to learn and choose to not be a victim. There are millions of victims in the United States alone,
A person made this recent post to Dr. Katherine Ramsland, Phd.’s blog about the challenge safety-concerned people have in the battle to recognize and prevent predators: “‘I’m always struck by how, after some act of violence, fraud, or sexual abuse, everyone laments: ‘Someone must have known! Why didn’t they say anything?’ And yet, time after time, it seems those who are in a position to see are sidelined, discredited, or disbelieved.’”
Ramsland Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University and the author of 60 books.
She continues with her interpretation. “My sense of it is this: People who can spot predators are ignored for reasons similar to those that blind many people to these offenders in the first place—distortion and denial. Predators count on it, especially in those rare times when someone is savvy enough to spot them and try to alert others.
“The fact is, we’re often just not prepared to accept that evil can get so close to us. As frustrating as it can be for those whose warnings fall on deaf ears, it’s normal to interpret the behavior of those we know in the most benign and ordinary frame.”
In an online article for PsychologyToday.com, Ramsland wrote “Three Signs of an Inconspicuous Predator In Your Midst.” It is partially based off her book called, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers. She suggests that sexual predators, con artists and others are similar in their predatory methods.Predators after our children do not look like uneducated monsters. Ramsland details community involvement and high educational backgrounds of numerous serial murderers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer.Dahmer’s father made this statement after his son’s trial: “Lionel Dahmer, Jeffrey Dahmer’s father, wrote a book after watching his son’s 1992 trial for the murder of 17 men and realized that the manner in which he’d interpreted Jeffrey’s behavior had been naïve, influenced by his personal fears. “I allowed myself to believe Jeff,” Lionel mused, “…to accept all his answers regardless of how implausible they might seem….More than anything, I allowed myself to believe that there was a line in Jeff, a line he wouldn’t cross…My life became an exercise in avoidance and denial.””
Don’t allow personal feelings to cloud your judgement on issues. It happens to the best when our family, best friend or long-time preacher has done something that raises the hair on your neck. We often refuse to acknowledge the facts. That is a major advantage that predators count to stay active and addicted to harming others.
• Approximately 90 percent of all childhood sexual abuse occurs with someone the child knows and has a trusted relationship with. Only 10 percent are strangers.
• According to the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children, 20 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood. 84 percent of children sexually abused are victimized between the ages of 9-12.
• Fewer than 35 percent of these case are reported to authorities. Reasons for not reporting range from guilt/shame to fear, possible judgement and more. Predators also coerce children into silence with threats, promises and false statements, such as: “This is normal at your age” or “Your parents told me to do this.”
STEPS TO HELP
SafelyEverAfter.com has posted 10 Play-It-Safe Rules for adults and children to use daily. They are designed for children of all ages. Here is a summary:
1—I am the BOSS of my body.
2—I know my name, address, phone number and my parents’ names and cell phone numbers too.
3—Safe, Smart Grownups don’t ask kids for HELP. They ask other adults.
4—I never go ANYWHERE or take ANYTHING from someone I don’t know.
5—I must check first with my Safe, Smart Grownups for PERMISSION. If I don’t check first and receive permission, the answer is NO.
6—Everyone’s bathing suit areas are private.
7—I don’t have to be polite (or quiet) if someone makes me feel uncomfortable or scared. It is OK to say NO.
8—I don’t keep SECRETS, especially if they make me feel scared or uneasy. NO PARENT should tell a child to keep a SECRET.
9—If I ever get lost in a public place, I can FREEZE or YELL or go to a mom with other children and ask for help.
10—I will always pay attention to my Special Inner Voice, especially if I get an “UH-OH” feeling.
• More on this continuing series will be posted here on the Facebook.com page below: facebook.com/terry.carter.free