Are You Or Your Child A Possible Victim?
A young girl, Jaycee Lee Dugard, disappears in 1991 on her way to school one morning. Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy kidnapped her. Garrido shocked her with a stun gun. They then put her in the back of their car and drove off. When she came to she was handcuffed and in a run-down building with hardly any light and a locked door. She was sexually abused an unknown number of times. When she was fourteen, she had her first child; she then had another child four years later. The father of her children was Phillip Garrido. They held her hostage for 18 years. During those 18 years, parole officers searched the home several times and the Garridos’ were able to distract the officers and they never found Jaycee. All she ever wanted was to see her parents again and to protect her two children that she had while in captivity (Kidnap victim,1).
Sexual predators do exist and are a very real threat. They do not just walk the streets anymore – they also exist on the internet. Boys and girls are in danger of being targeted more on the internet than on the streets. Sexual predators exist everywhere.
Predators can be anyone at any given place and time. The internet can help predators find what they are looking for a lot faster and easier. Everyone should be aware of their surroundings at all times, and parents should be aware their surrounds as well as their child’s surroundings.
All that has to be done is watch the evening news, for example the Jaycee Dugard case or the Elizabeth Smart case can be seen. There are daily reports of preachers, coaches, Cub Scout leaders, police, and even regular everyday people preying on children as well as adults. A sexual predator does not have a particular look that lets us know that he or she is a predator. That predator could even be a family member.
Sexual predators do not have to leave their homes anymore; all that is needed is a computer. A lot of predators log in to sites such as MySpace, Facebook, dating sites, and chat rooms. If you or your child uses any of these sites, there is always a risk of being preyed upon.
In an interview with Chris Hansen, Dr. Fred Berlin, a professor of psychiatry at John Hopkins School of Medicine stated,
One of the contributory facts – it is not the only one – is the insidious nature of the internet itself. Secondly, there is this anonymity. You feel as though you are there in the privacy of your bedroom. It is not that private, but you do not sense that at the time. And thirdly, there is a distortion of reality and fantasy to some extent. The people feel as though they are playing a game. They are making up who they are. They wonder if someone else is giving a false persona. They begin to do things that in the light of day they might never have done and then, ultimately and sadly, sometimes cross a line that they might not otherwise have crossed (What can be done to stop a predator, 1).
Most – but not all – sexual predators have a history of being sexually, physically, and mentally abused as they were growing up. For example, “Women who show pedophilia tend to suffer from psychiatric disorders or substance abuse problems. There is a higher correlation between sexual abuses as a child with females compared to males” (Inside the Mind of a Pedophile, 1).
Biological and environmental factors can be causes of pedophilia. “Cerebral dysfunction may be a contributing or dominant factor of pedophilia, including problems with self-control, extreme urges, and cognitive distortions. Many experts also believe that disorders for sexual preferences emerge from childhood experiences during critical periods in human development” (Inside the Mind of a Pedophile, 1).
Online predators often look for physical preferences. The preferences they search for are based on hair color, eye color, gender, age, race, height, and sometimes weight may be a preference. The predator could even be looking for someone with the same interests as theirs. These characteristics are easily found by a predator because innocent children unknowingly give them this information by posting it on the internet themselves. The children also make it easy for the predator to find them while chatting with friends by talking about school, likes and dislikes, sports events they attend or participate in. These innocent children also put their friends in danger through these conversations. They post pictures of themselves, their homes, and when they are old enough to drive they post pictures of their cars which may also show their license plate numbers.
Predators look for information about a child’s problems at home or at school or any type of emotional issue that may leave them vulnerable which in turn makes them easy to befriend. A predator will use these frustrations as a way to relate to the child and lure them in. The child begins to trust him or her and begins to open up to them. Once the child believes they can trust the predator, he or she is often able to gain phone numbers, inappropriate pictures, and may even convince a child to meet with him or her. Once enough personal information is gained the child will often be threatened with this information in order to scare the child into continuing the relationship (Online Predators, 1)
The personality of predators wears many faces. They use these personality traits to their advantage. Their personalities can range from cunning, patient, confident, and creative to deranged, manipulative, controlling, and emotionally abusive.
A predator’s motive is not always sexual. It can be about the need for power, possibly even physical abuse.
Sexual predators do not follow a particular pattern as far as their appearance is concerned. There is not one specific race, age, height or weight. They all blend in with everyone else.
Computers and internet are considered wonderful but they come with dangers. Here are some shocking statistics: “One in five United States teenagers who regularly log on to the internet say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the web; twenty – five percent of children have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online; only one – third of households with internet access are actively protecting their children with filtering or blocking software; seventy – five percent of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services; approximately twenty – five percent of children who encountered a sexual approach of solicitation told a parent or adult; one in thirty – three youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation in the past year; and seventy – seven percent of the targets for online predators were age fourteen or older, another twenty – two percent were users ages ten to thirteen” (Shocking Statistics, 1).
Even after psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy pedophiles will do whatever they can do to continue their compulsive behavior. They volunteer in any type of program in which they feel they may come in contact with future victims.
As of yet there is no cure for pedophilia. We as a society need to be aware of how this affects every person involved. We as a society also need to be aware of everything we as adults are doing while on the internet. We need to be even more aware of what our children are doing. We are responsible for our children’s protection whether online or in everyday activities. “While not all people who engage with children are pedophiles, the prominence of pedophiles across many facets of life is much greater than we think” (Inside the Mind of a Pedophile, 4).
There are websites that offer helpful tips and offer ways to help protect not only yourself but your family. Some of those websites are: http://www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/pguidee.htm, http://www.ic3.gov, http://www.missingkids.com, http://www.netsmartz.org, http://www.staysafe.org, and http://isafe.org/ (Online Predators, 2).
I know I wouldn’t want to see a picture of anyone that I know and love up on a bulletin board at a store, would you? This is one reason we need to do everything within our power to protect ourselves and those we love and care about, especially if it’s your own child that is possibly in harm’s way.
CNN Wire Staff. Kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard talks about her 18 years of terror. 2011. Copyright 2012 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/07/10/dugard.abc.interview/index.html
Cochran, Michael and Cole, Meghan. Inside the Mind of a Pedophile. 2010. http://neuroanthropology.net/2010/05/10/inside-the-mind-of-a-pedophile/
Hansen, Chris. What can be done to stop predators? NBC News updated Feb. 03, 2006. Copyright 2012 NBCNews.com http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11164933/ns/dateline_nbc/
Online Predators. Copyright 2006-2011. http://www.familysafecomputers.org/predators.htm
Shocking Statistics. Copyright SentryPC Parental Control Software 2005-2012. http://www.sentrypc.com/stastics.htm