This article is a continuation of my article explaining the psychological aspects of the minds and behavior of pedophiles. This section will now deal with their victims; the children.
Most people will automatically think of the loss of innocence when an adult defiles a child in that way. However, according to Dr. Hord, Florida psychologist specializing in treating sexually abused children, some very young children enjoy the experience of fondling etc, they do not realize anything is wrong until later in life. It is only then that they realize that what was done to them was wrong. Others may not realize it until years later maybe even decades, when problems begin to surface in their lives and affects the ways they interact with the world. Some may not remember the sexual activity if it happened when they were really young and some bury it in their subconcious because the pain is too hard to remember. Still others remember it and are tormented by it for years to come.
Dr. Hord states that you cannot treat all sexually abused children in the same way, the problems and reactions are different when the abuser is a family member to when it is a complete stranger.
Children who have been sexually abused by a parent are confused. They don’t understand what has happened to them and they often feel guilty for reporting the abuse, somehow thinking they brought on the abuse themselves or caused pain to their abuser by reporting the crime. Some have been abused for so long they feel that it is normal. Other children are afraid the family might retaliate by denying the abuse, blaming the child for lying and putting the child in an awkward position of no longer knowing right from wrong. These children faced in this situation often take back the accusations, which further complicates the situation making it harder for both treatment and prosecution of the criminal.
Dr. Hord does not focus on the abuser in therapy he says it does not do any good to try to convince the child that the adult they love so much is a criminal. It is sometimes just too hard for the child to reconcile love with criminality. He says the child will come up with his or her own understanding which will make sense of the situation and the horrible thing that has been done.
These sexually abused kids may suffer from all kinds of disorders ranging from thumb sucking and bed wetting, trouble eating and sleeping, to depression, alcoholism, drug taking, promiscuity, and other mental disorders in life. Dr. Hord hesitates on making a list of illnesses because he says these illnesses could also be caused by other reasons other than the sexual abuse as well.
The American Psychological Association has listed some signs and symptoms which surface among sexually abused children.
Sexually abused children may exhibit knowledge about sex far beyond their years or what a parent has taught them. They may display inappropriate sexual interest or sexual behavior for the age bracket and they might act out sexual behaviors with their peers or siblings. However, please note that a certain amount of experimenting with masturbation is normal.
The child may come out and tell you that he or she has been sexually molested. Though there have been cases where children have lied it is very rare, they are for the most part telling the truth and you should believe them.
How to protect children
Most kids know the person who has been abusing them, it is rare that it is a stranger. It is important to teach them not to talk to strangers or let anyone touch them in places that are uncomfortable for them. It is difficult though, when the person is not a stranger but a teacher or coach or anyone the child knows. Sometimes it is hard for them to grasp what is happening. Children are also taught to trust the people they know and who are the people who should be looking out for them.
Along with telling them to say no to any touch or kiss that is inappropriate. They should never listen to any adult who asks them to keep touching or kissing secret. They must report it right away to a parent or teacher if it happens in school. Sometimes, especially in situations where the parent is the sexual predator, children cannot confront the parent or parents for fear they would be punished and therefore they should tell someone they trust like a teacher, a nurse, their friends parents and so on.
As a parent you must be extra cautious of people who seem overly interested in your children, especially if they seem to want to be alone with them. Though not everyone is a pedophile it is often hard to tell who is from who isn’t. Pedophiles are skilled manipulators who can fool even their employers and the parents of the children they victimize.
We cannot assume because someone has a good reputation within the community that he or she is okay. Teachers, coaches, even priests can be pedophiles. If you must hire a babysitter, check the person out before hiring him or her. If you are obtaining a babysitter from an established agency ask if they have done a criminal check. Even if this candidate for babysitter is not a pedophile you do not want anyone who might abuse or neglect your child in anyway. You don’t want someone who will beat your child or get drunk or smoke dope in front of your child. You not want someone who will influence your child into any negative behaviors such as viewing pornography and so on.
With the advent of the Internet pedophiles have been using the internet to attract and lure children away from their homes and abusing them sexually. This is extremely easy because pedophiles can pretend to be as young as the children they are targeting.
Pedophiles are skilled manipulators. They often gain the trust of these children before they act on their urges. In a study done by London’s The Kidscape Charity for Children’s Safety where the researchers interviewed 91 pedophiles, the researchers found that pedophiles win the trust of these children by taking them out on outings, and giving them gifts. They often look for children from single parent familes because they feel that the mother is just so thankful to have anyone take an interest in the child. Almost half of these pedophiles admitted that they had been the babysitter for the children they had sexually abused and this was the way they met the children in the first place.
Pedophiles often work in jobs or careers where they have easy access to children, they could be in the medical profession, schools, sports teams, youth groups, youth ministry and so on. Teachers can be pedophiles, janitors can be pedophiles. The education or financial status of the pedophile does not make a difference.
To learn more about how to protect your children from a sexual predator, there is an excellent website: http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/soc-um/about-safeguarding-our-children-united-mothers/menu-id-823/ which is called HealthPlace and it has all kinds of valuable information on sex offenders and how to protect children from them.