Child sexual molestation and sexual abuse consists of inappropriate and illegal touching of a child in a sexual manner, or the sexual exploitation of children by taking pictures and videos of children posed or acting in a sexual manner. Child molestation ranges from having the child undress, to touching the child's genitals in a sexual manner, to forcing the child to perform oral sex, to actual sexual intercourse with the child. Chronic child molesters prefer either their own gender or the opposite gender as sexual partners. Many times, they understand that their behavior is both unlawful and morally wrong in our society, but they are unable to control their sexual impulses. Other child molesters, called pedophiles, don't believe their their behavior is wrong and that the child actually enjoys having sex with adults. In summary, child molestation is unlawful sexual contact of any type with a child under the age of consent for sexual acts.
A pedophile is a person whose sexual partner of choice is a child under the legal age of consent for sexual contact. Pedophiles are usually men, but there are documented cases of female pedophiles. Some pedophiles prefer same-sex child sexual partners, while others prefer opposite sex partners. Pedophiles tend to be very particular about the age of the children they prefer as sexual partners; they may prefer very young children (ages 5-10) and some prefer young adolescents. The exact cause of pedophilia is largely unknown; one theory is that they are genetically pre-disposed towards desiring sex with children. This, of course, usually rules out any type of mental health treatment to help them alter their illegal and cruel behavior; these pedophiles don't believe they are harming their victims. Another theory on the origins of pedophilia is that they themselves were sexually abused as children, either by a stranger or a trusted adult, and these experiences caused them to assume the role of "predator" rather than "victim" as they become adults. Pedophiles are extremely dangerous criminals who have no remorse for their actions; they truly believe that children want to have sexual contact with adults and that they are actually "helping" their victims by teaching them about sex. Pedophiles have very poor social skills with adults; they can relate to the emotional immaturity of children. Children as sex partners are appealing to them because with children, they don't have to interact on an adult levels with mature sex partners. Pedophiles pose serious problems in the criminal justice system. When sentenced to prison, they are not responsive to rehabilitation and they are always "targets" for other inmates. If paroled, pedophiles must register with local law enforcement as sex offenders.
You can access several Websites that host a national sex offender database, and many states also maintain individual sex offender Websites.
The purpose of a national sexoffender database is to inform the public of registered sex offenders that live in their area. These sex offenders have been convicted as specified in the Wetterling Act as any criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or any sexually violent offense. Typically, this includes information about those sexual offenders who were convicted of offenses involving sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of children, and anyone convicted of rape and rape-like crimes.
Since Megan's Law was established, every state is now required to list local sex offenders. The information may differ from state to state, and not all of it may be made public. Public information typically includes the following:
* Date of birth
* Physical description
* Current address
* Date of offense
* Nature of offense
* Any outstanding warrants.
There are several characteristics that may signal the personality of a child predator. These may include the following:
* Child predators are typically afraid of adult intimacy.
* Child predators search out children who are vulnerable and easily manipulated.
* A child predator may refuse to take responsibility for his actions.
* A child predator generally needs to control others.
* A child predator may have been abused as a child.
* A child predator often has a great desire for power.
* Child predators typically have a low self-esteem.
There are several steps you can take to help protect your child from child molesters and sexual offenders. Of course you should continue to check sex offender lists in your area on a regular basis, but you also need to protect your children in other ways.
* Don't leave your children unsupervised even for just a few seconds! You might be tempted to let your child be alone in a section of a store, in your yard, in a park, in your vehicle, etc. It only takes a few seconds for a child to be abducted, so don't leave them!
* Don't allow your child to walk home from school unsupervised.
* If your child is at a neighbor's house playing with a friend, ask that neighbor to call you before he or she sends your child home so that you can come and get your child.
* Don't drop your child off at a park to play with other children alone.
* Don't let your child play at video arcades in stores or malls without you.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|