Everyday I read in my local newspaper of someone who is arrested for, or found guilty of, or sentenced because of crimes against children.  These crimes usually fall into two different categories, either molestation of children or possession of child porn.  I can not tell you that either case is more horrendous, but from reading different news articles, it seems that our judicial system tends to handout more severe sentences to those individuals, who are found guilty or plead guilty to possession of child porn.

Just yesterday in my local paper were two news articles were side by side, dealing with these types of crimes.  The first article was about a man who was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 25 years suspended, for a total of 5 years in prison, for sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl.  The second article was about a man who was accused of possessing more than 225,000 pictures and close to 600 videos on his home computer.  He received a sentence of 13 years in a Federal prison, must pay $ 6000 in restitution, and will be on probation for 10 years.

Now you look at these sentences and both seem quite severe and I agree that they should be severe.  If you just look at the different cases, it appears that the guy with the child porn got the stiffer sentence and that is probably due to the fact that it is a federal crime, whereas the molestation is a state crime.  But, my wife and I have seen first hand , the long-term, devastating effects that cases of molestation have on their victims and because of the extensive damage to their entire being, we believe, that no punishment is too severe.  My only question, is why are not all crimes against children a federal crime?

The other question that arises from these types of news articles is: are there more of these types of crimes, thusly, more persons committing these types of crimes, or are we just doing a better job of catching them?  There are some factors like the development of the internet which has a direct causal effect on possession of child porn in today’s society and maybe, our law enforcement and judicial system does a better job, because more people are required, by law, to report such suspicions of child abuse to the authorities.  Who really knows the answer, but I am surprised by the sheer volume of cases reported in the news.  It appears to be on a daily occurrence, and it needs to stop.

The following are some of the observations that I have made over the last 30 years, dealing with sexual predators, in prison.

1.  No perp is going to change, once an abuser of children, always an abuser.

2.  The worse kind, is those, that molest their own children.

3.  Be cautious of anyone who works with children, especially if they are male, but women can also be abusers.

4.  The prime place that perps look for their next victim…is the mall.

5.  They pick their victim by looking for the “wounded kid.”  The one that is alone, or that trails the group of kids.  The one that appears sad, or lonely, or unloved.

6.  Almost all perps have a set age group and gender type for their victims and  rarely deviate.  This does not usually hold true in most incest cases.  They will often abuse all the children, in the family, if give a chance, and will not always discriminate due to gender.

7.  Abusers state that they will “groom” their chosen victim for up to a year, before acting.  They will often attempt to win the child over with gifts.  Know what possessions your child has, and if something new appears, that you did not buy them, than question your child about it.  The whole…who, what, when, where, and how.

8.  Question your child about any adult “friends” that they may have or talk about.

9.  Get involved in your child’s life…talk to them, daily, about the day’s events.  Know who their friends are and require a meet and greet with the parents of those friends.  If we did not know the parents of our children’s friends, than they could not “hang out” together…period.

10.  Some perps even admitted to “fondling” children, in the child’s home, while the parents were present.  Do not be naive.  Be aware of your surroundings, even at home.  Do not be overly trusting, especially of other family members.

11.  Know where your child is, at all times, and especially, who they are with.

12.  Watch for changes in mood, or appearance in your children.  Are they less informative about their day?  Do they appear depressed or withdrawn?  Do they suddenly, slip on hygiene or change their appearance to downplay their sexuality?  These are all classic signs of a child being a victim.  Do not just dismiss this as just a “phase” that they are going through.

13.  You are your child’s keeper…establish and maintain an open and loving daily communication with your children.  Quit emailing, talking on your cellphone, or texting on your cellphone; with your children.  Sit down with them and have a daily face to face discussion.

14.  Make sure that you teach your children…that they may come to you…no matter what.  Its called unconditional love, and no matter how bad it may seem…you will always be there to support them, protect them, and love them.

15.  Finally, the most important thing you can do to protect your child from becoming a victim is to teach them to say no,  and that it is ok to do so.  No perp wants to get caught and he will use whatever means to keep his activities quiet.  Teach your kids to understand their gut feelings and to act on them.  If it does not feel right…then say so, and walk away.  Every individual that I talked to, who were abusers of child, stated they would have walked away from an intended victim, and did so, when the child said no.

So, in closing…let’s try to stop these terrible crimes against child.  Only you can keep your child safe…do not leave it up to your child.  Also, learn to be a parent.  You were not put on this earth to become your child’s …best friend.  It is everyone’s responsibility to protect those among us…who can not protect themselves.

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