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By October 8, 2011

Single mother advised to watch out for child predators


Dear Ms. HeartBeat:
My friend owns a store. Her one full-time employee is this 24 year old man. He is a college graduate, grew up here, comes from a very respectable family. His “career” is art, but he seems content just working for my friend for the time being. He seems very responsible, although somewhat immature. He knows my kids as they hang out at the store frequently with my friend and her kids, who are the same age as mine. He has done things with my friend’s kids in the past, like take them out or to the beach or whatever and seems fine with them.

Earlier this week, he took all four of the children to see “G-Force.” When he dropped my kids at home afterward, he overheard my older daughter ask me to take her to the new Harry Potter movie. He offered to take her . . . anytime.

Would you let her go with him? It would be just her — the other kids have no interest in Harry Potter.

Ms. HeartBeat Responds:
The key phrase here was “although somewhat immature.” The second point of contention for me is that it is not normal for a 24 year old adult male to want to be around young kids all the time. Sorry, but it’s not. Most want to be with their buddies, drinking, partying and chasing women their own age. Or they’re attending University, working long hours to advance their career, etc. They are definitely NOT seeking opportunities to hang out with a bunch of little kids all the time.

See, the problem with situations like this is that mothers are usually too trusting with their children. They trust boyfriends, they trust neighbors, they trust family friends. They automatically trust great uncles and friends of friends and the parents of their children’s friends. Sometimes mothers are too trusting of their own husbands.

Here are some statistics for you:

. Acquaintance perpetrators are the most common abusers, constituting approximately 70-90% of all reported perpetrators.
– Finkelhor, D. 1994

. 89% of child sexual assault cases involve persons known to the child, such as a caretaker or family acquaintance.
– Diana Russell Survey, 1978

. 29% of child sexual abuse offenders are relatives, 60% are acquaintances, and only 11% are strangers.
– Diana Russell, The Secret Trauma, NY:Basic Books, 1986

. For the vast majority of child victimizers in State prison, the victim was someone they knew before the crime. 1/3 had committed their crime against their own child, about 1/2 had a relationship with the victim as a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring, about 1 in 7 reported the victim to have been a stranger to them.
– BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991

. 3/4 of the violent victimizations of children took place in either the victim’s home or the offenders home.
– BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991

. Males are reported to be the abusers in 85-95% of cases
-Thoringer, D., et al., 1988

Let me reinforce something really important: Statistics report that the majority of child molestations are not strangers, but trusted family members and friends because THEY ARE GIVEN FREE ACCESS TO CHILDREN by parents that are too trusting.

While parents are smiling and thinking things are fine, children are molested. Children are also frequently victimized by being photographed and put on the web for profit. All kinds of things can happen when parents trust too many different people around their children. I advocate that parents keep a tighter rein and a closer eye on their babies.

So no, do not send your daughter anywhere with some dude you don’t know jack about. If your baby girl wants to see Harry Potter, YOU take her.

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