It’s still striking to me how many of my friends (un)knowingly post shirtless photos of their very young children on Facebook, making their children the object of gazing eyes of trolling pedophiles. Really, pictures of your young child bathing, swimming, or running around the house nude is not appropriate to display to hundreds of people. And for those who think that I’m exceedingly paranoid, just cruise Youtube for 30 seconds and you’ll find that there are countless channels dedicated entirely to snapshots and videos of (even very) young girls and boys which were stolen from Facebook accounts. Names of videos like these dominate Youtube:
Very young hotties dancing
Young cutie teen shaking her butt on cam
Collection of hot young pinay girls
Young hottie dancing (about 8 or 9 years old)
Young girl dancing with hot style
Facebook hot girls
Hot sexy girls self shots
What’s even more disturbing is how young girls have been endorsed by their parents to display themselves in public. With shrink-wrapped shorts and shirts which grossly display butt cheeks and cleavage, voyeurs don’t have to take to social media sites to have their imaginations stimulated. In fact, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and the like are all just bonuses to real life encounters. Unlimited, free still and video images are up for grabs and here’s the kicker. . . unless they are explicit images of underage children, it’s all legal. As one whose father is a convicted pedophile who is in prison for the rest of his life, I told him that I now educate people on how to protect their children from molesters like him. As a result, he has given me invaluable insight into (1)just how easy it is for molesters to offend, especially in Christian places where people are typically way too trusting of everybody and (2)how to protect children from abusers. His answers are not atypical from other molesters so instead of quoting him directly, I will paint commonalities among a sample of many offenders which I’ve gathered from books, training workshops, training videos, and further research about and conversations with pedophiles. Hopefully people will take heed and begin to take steps to protect their children.
Point #1–Porn steers people toward pedophilia, normalizes it, and accelerates the need to view harsher, cruder, and younger images. What’s frightening is how normalized, mainstream, and available porn has become. What’s more frightening is just how many are viewing it. Pornography drives the imagination and the imagination dumps fuel onto human desire, confusing the desire for more stimuli with the need for more. Porn also blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Philip Jenkins, author of Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet notes that pornographers quickly learned that by falsely offering child pornography sites, they have captured a huge audience with which they are gaining massive profits. Though the females are 18 or older, Jenkins rightly notes that “countless ‘adult’ images portray grown women as schoolgirls or with shaved pubic hair. While the patrons of adult magazines or Web sites would be appalled to be told they had anything in common with the loathed pedophiles, some of the psychological stimuli are related. . . those interested in child pornography might not be so far removed from the ‘normal’ population. The gulf with normality is all the narrower when the materials in question involve young teenagers” (p. 30).
Viewing pornographic images, including child pornographic images, in public schools is nothing new and is actually quite common. A friend of mine works IT at a public school and, though there is a substantial firewall in place, pornographic images are accessed very often by staff and students. Donald Cherry, a 27 year old history teacher in Tulsa, had three students aged 14-16 catch him looking at pornography. When the students asked to see the images again, Cherry allowed them to view the porn. He was eventually caught and the investigation revealed 8 pictures of child porn on his computer. At his sentencing, Cherry said, “I’m very big into escapism and leaving reality behind” (Pamela Paul, Pornified, p. 177). The reality, Mr. Cherry, is that those graphic images of children in compromised poses were really taken by some pervert who exploited the innocence of those children for your “escapism.”
It is no secret that porn is constantly pushing the limits on what is “normal.” Children who enter the porn industry at 18 are being made to look younger and younger and are forced to do more and more. Hardcore lewd sex acts such as anal penetration, double penetration, gangbangs, ATMs (ass to mouth), transgender sex, sadism, homosexuality, and bestiality are leaving less and less to the imagination for casual viewers. It’s no wonder tens of thousands of men are suffering from erectile disorders in real life and are forcing their sexual partners to perform the same lewd acts they see on their monitors, including making them shave pubic hair and dress up as schoolgirls (Ibid, 211-238). But don’t take my word for it. In the words of a pedophile, “If you want to cut the snake off at the head, address the pornography issue.” And so I do.
Point #2–Fantasy, especially masturbatory fantasy, sustains molesters’ momentum. I will address the dress code for your children in the next point, but it cannot be emphasized enough that constant fantasy motivates and drives the molester. A couple months ago I was in Michigan visiting my in-laws. Our 3 year old daughter loves to ride carousels, so we have a tradition of going to the mall and letting her ride with Grandma and Grandpa. I watch people. An older man looked out of place and could not take his eyes off the carousel. Every time a certain young child went around (thankfully it was not my daughter or I may be in jail), he became fixated on her. When she got off, the next group came on. Same thing. I quickly learned that he preferred girls about 8 years old with long dark hair, tight shorts, and dark complexion. Every time. We left the mall and came back a couple hours later. My daughter wanted to ride the carousel one more time. This same creep was in the same spot watching and fantasizing about his next victim. I reported him to the operator and she said, “I didn’t notice until you told me, but that same guy was here for several hours last night.” She called security on him. What we may view as innocent, the pedophile manipulates, fantasizes about, and masturbates to the images he has stored in his mind. Be aware of who is gazing upon your children at all times.
Though this video is dated, it shows that imagination plays a huge role in pedophiles. Here, they act out their fantasies with children in a virtual playground:
Point #3–How you dress your child matters. . . to the pedophile. Most of us don’t give a 2nd thought to how we dress our very young children. We’re just glad to get them out the door without any major meltdowns! But molesters will tell you that how you dress your child plays a significant role in whether or not they will begin targeting your child for the grooming process. According to pedophiles, the following is what most likely will grab their attention (this includes children as young as infants). Cute sundresses, especially if underwear is exposed when they are playing. Tight clothing, including shirts and shorts. Anything that is revealing whatsoever. Done up hair, like cute braids or pig tails. This doesn’t mean you can never braid your kids’ hair. Just beware that by doing so your child is becoming more appealing to child molesters.
What will deter a molester? Loose fitted clothing. Plain hair. Jeans. If wearing a dress, let it be at least knee length and don’t allow underwear to be exposed. I would add NEVER post nude pictures of your young child on social websites and NEVER allow your child to post revealing pictures on their social pages. This includes “sexy” pictures in front of a mirror, swimsuit poses, etc. Though it’s not common, people have used geotags in photos to show up at strangers’ houses. But the point is that thousands of Facebook and Twitter images are being trolled for every day by pedophiles. They steal, copy, and distribute pictures of your child without your ever knowing it. Be wise. Set your photos on Facebook to a private setting so that only friends can see your pictures. And don’t friend a bunch of random people you don’t personally know. To do so is to invite disaster.
Point #4–It is embarrassingly easy for molesters to groom and offend children. It does not have to be done in the quiet of the night, either. Quite often, children are abused in front of their parents and the parents have no idea. Watch the way other people touch your children. A good rule of thumb I have is, keep your gropy hands off my kid. I’ve read account after account of molesters who slip a hand inside a shirt or rub up against genitalia purposely in front of the child’s parents as a test (they are testing groomability of the child). The parents surprisingly don’t notice because they’re not looking for it. I do. I recently was visiting a church and was holding my daughter. An old man came up and as I was holding my daughter he kept poking his finger into her stomach. She obviously didn’t like it but he persisted. I almost lost it. I kept my composure but turned my back on him and made a rude comment that he heard. I don’t care. She is my daughter and I have a
right obligation to protect her the best I know how. So do you.
**Editor’s Note** After I first published this blog, a good friend of mine who is also a therapist made some very valid points and I would like to clarify. I am not saying that, if you dress your child a certain way, he or she will become a victim of abuse. There are many types of offenders, from sadists (who are the minority), to grabbers (also a minority), to groomers (the majority), opportunists, etc. They carefully select the most vulnerable child and will molest them no matter what they are wearing. But I did want to make the point that masturbatory fantasy is extremely important in pedophiles to the point of obsession. We must be careful not to make our children more vulnerable by being careless about posting pictures of them with little or no clothing.
The number one thing that pedophiles are looking for is access. Can I groom the parent to allow me time alone (i.e. babysitting, “fun day,” field trip, bathing them, etc.) with their child? Some pedophiles are persistent. Others will quickly back away if access is denied.