If you have a daughter, she has a one in five chance of being sexually abused before she turns twelve. One in five little girls under the age of twelve has been molested nationally by someone claiming the only thing they are guilty of is love. Through this paper, you will find facts and statistics showing that 92% of sexually abused children are not molested by some unknown on the street, but by a relative, close family friend or person of authority. You will discover that most molestations are not one-time offenses but continue for months and sometimes years before ever being disclosed. You will also learn the shockingly high number of white middle to upper-class offenders. This author will explore the offender’s control over their victim and attempt to explain the victim’s silence. Lastly, we will look at the ability to rehabilitate and reintegrate sexual predators safely into society.
Across our country the statics are startling; one in five female children are molested before reaching the tender age of five. While this appears as a staggering number the truth of the matter is these are only the number of cases reported. Officials feel the numbers are actually closer to one in three nationwide. What is even more alarming is the realization that these children are not targeted by some random individual off the street. In fact, ninety-two percent of molestations are carefully planned out by someone the family knows and trusts. In most cases, this individual is a step-father, father, uncle, cousin or family friend.
These offenders lure a child into silence in a plethora of ways; they spend a very long time building trust with the child and family. Molestation isn’t something that just happens; molesters spend a great deal of time grooming the child. The more time they have to groom their victim, the least likely their victim is to speak. Young children are coerced into silence through a variety of different gifts, everything from puppies or kittens to snowboards, jewelry, make-up, a special food treat, or concert. If the offender feels like he might be losing his grip on her silence he will generally threaten harm, but not towards the child, instead to the child’s mother, sibling or favorite pet thus again ensuring obedient silence.
Older children if groomed properly tend to become obsessed with the romance of the older man in love with the little girl. The molester will tell the child they love them, want them to replace the woman they are currently with, stress that nobody understands them as well as the child. Promise them everything their parents say no to, drinking, drugs, parties, and helping to hide boyfriends. This method works well with pre-teens and young teens that are trying desperately to establish their identity and want to be taken seriously and treated more maturely.
These children are already in puberty, their bodies are changing and they are becoming curious. Male offenders will pray upon this approaching the child with innocent lessons. Playing the “you don’t want to be a klutz your first-time” card gets the molester in with the child who’s already afraid of disappointing boys with their lack of sexual knowledge. The girls commonly targeted are shy, quiet, and independent. It is thought that this combination in a child creates a doorway for the molester since the child is already antisocial.
More often than not molesters are men; however, the number of female molesters is on the rise. Approximately twice as many incidents involve girls rather than boys (Hall). While most young men would view touching or even sex with an older woman as a “score” or good thing the number of women reported is up by twelve percent over the last five years (Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute). Women offenders generally will target young boys, who are outcasts, loaners, the “geeks”, boys who are unpopular with the girls. Women offenders will show the boy love and affection, preying on the boys need to feel masculine, telling him he’s her protector, he’s so strong anything that will bolster his self-esteem and cause her to be the object of his affection. The early education of young boys has aided in the increasing numbers of women offenders; however, the larger increase is coming from women molesting girls. Girls tend to be more prone to report a female offender than a male; experts believe that this is because as girls reach puberty they become more obstinate against their mothers, thus resisting female authority. It has been found that girls who get in trouble at school generally are having problems with another female, either a teacher they think has pushed too far, or a peer that has an opposing view to their own.
Another very startling fact to most people is where this heinous act is found. A very common misconception is that only lower class minorities need to worry. In reality, it is exactly the opposite. More reported offenders are Caucasian males of middle or upper class between the ages of 30-50. Your child’s best friend’s father, your brother, your cousin, your husband or your father are all to be considered potential offenders. The most common place form of child molestation is by an immediate family member. In one in seven cases of child molestation, the offender is the male in a father figure role, the biological father, stepfather or adoptive father. One in thirteen reported cases of molestation are uncles, cousins or brothers. (Gretchen Turner, Nora Harlow, and Whitney Gabriel.) Molesters never LOOK like anything but a normal everyday hardworking individual. They are family men, pastors, teachers, coaches people whom everyone assumes is a friend and a safe place for their child.
Forty percent of all molestations end in some form of the medical condition, often it is this condition that causes the offender to be revealed. Out of forty percent of molestation cases, three percent end in pregnancy which leads to the prosecution of the offender. One percent results in HIV which as we all know has not only no cure but will generally lead to death. Sixty-three percent are infected with the incurable venereal disease herpes, which generally comes as a shock to parents because with smaller children it’s a very nasty, painful sore that causes them to reveal it to their parents. Fifteen percent are diagnosed with other types of venereal disease’ many putting the child at risk of infertility when they get older. The remaining eighteen percent are either injured or treated for physical problems that again can cause many issues as the girl gets older. In the end, all children need very intense therapy. (Kenneth V. Lanning)
While the law has taken a very strong stance on this crime over the last ten years the system is still flawed. While convicted offenders are required by law to register with local authorities around 50% do not. Let us take a brief look at the word convicted. The definition of convicted is transitive verb 1 : to find or prove to be guilty 2 : to convince of error or sinfulness intransitive verb: to find a defendant guilty (2009) . These individual have to be convicted criminally, however, only about 25% of cases are ever actually prosecuted. “The burden of proof is far too high” says Firestone District Attorney Craig Merrit, “Juries simply do not want to believe that this crime is happening in their community, or that this man that looks like the epitome of middle-class suburbia could possibly do this to his daughter. They prefer to think that the child saw it on T.V. so it’s happening to them. Often the defense in these cases force the child to take the witness stand, most become disoriented, their stories start changing because of confusing questions and that alone gives a jury reasonable doubt. While as a DA I want to see every one of these jerks behind bars, the reality of the situation is if I don’t have very hard physical proof and I mean major damage, bruises, tearing, pregnancy or seamen, I won’t prosecute because it’s far too hard on the children” (Craig Merrit).
Many times when the offender is a parent, older sibling or someone living within the home child protective services files what is called a Dependant and Neglected case, or D&N. This type of case is done on a civil level and is used alongside and in many cases in lieu of a criminal case. The burden of proof is much lower in a D&N case because it is civil, in these cases they only have to think something happened. This causes the offender to have a restraining order filed although they do not have to register as sex offenders, nor do they ever have any record of what they have done. The major downfall to a D&N case is it is also filed against the nonoffending parent or parents and in order for the children to receive proper therapeutic services the nonoffending parents must plead guilty. While this causes no marks upon their records and causes no problems in background checks, it does often cause the parents much personal discomfort.
Sadly there seems to be no cure for this crime. According to the article For sex offenders, the dispute on therapy’s benefits (Goodnough & Davey) only approximately 12% of sex offenders is able to be rehabilitated. Faulted for this unbelievable number is low conviction rates and low release rates. Parole boards, are responsible for the release of offenders and simply do not feel comfortable placing sex offenders back on the streets without some form of assurance from the offender. Most child sex offenders around 73% (Lanning) begin grooming their next victim within the first year of their release. Strangely, close to the same number of offenders falls off the tracking radar as swiftly. Another factor that is blamed for the low rehabilitation rates is the lack of true honesty among the offenders. ”Most of those guys, they are just faking it to make it,” Mr. Carlin said. ”They’re just waiting to get released so they can go right back to what they were doing.” (Goodnough & Davey)
Through reading this paper it is this author’s sincerest hope that you have gleaned an understanding of this heinous crime. Girls from all walks of life are vulnerable and the predators are right in their own living room. Children remain silent for many reasons, some are frightened, others are ashamed but each child needs to be reminded that this was not their fault. Recovery from a sex crime can take a lifetime; parents need to remain vigilant for the signs not only from their children, but the people they allow around their children. Sex crimes are not to be taken lightly nor is it to be believed that offenders can safely reintegrate. Sexual offenders may know what they have done is wrong, but will not change their actions without continual intervention.
Gene G Abel, M.D., and Nora Harlow (2001). The Stop Child Molestation Book
Xlibris (Study test revised April 2002)
Gretchen Turner, Nora Harlow, and Whitney Gabriel. (2003, Fall). Child Sexual Abuse: A New Model for School Counselor Consultations
` Georgia School Counselors Association Journal. Vol 2 No 4
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Retrieved November14, 2008 from http://www.childmolestationprevention.org/index.html
Lesley A. Hall “paedophilia” The Oxford Companion to the Body. Ed. Colin Blakemore and Sheila Jennett. Oxford University Press, (2001). Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Apollo Group.
Retrieved January 11, 2009
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry : Child Sexual Abuse (2008 May) Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/child_sexual_abuse
Kenneth V. Lanning (2001) Child Molesters: A Behavior Analysis
Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC70.pdf
Goodnough, Abby, and Monica Davey. “For sex offenders, dispute on therapy’s benefits.(National Desk).” The New York Times. (March 6, 2007): A1(L). Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Apollo Library. 11 Jan. 2009
convict. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved January 11, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/convict