• I have been a psychologist for over 20 years and worked on both sides of the spectrum of treating and prosecuting sexual predators, the latter of the two being much more rewarding. It never ceases to amaze me how diverse the profiles of sexual predators can be. Before working in that field, I had certain stereotypes of what a rapist or pedophile would look like. But all my preconceived notions were shattered as each case was more astonishing than the next. There were aggressive, abusive, coercive, outwardly manipulative, and even those who groomed their victims for long periods of time. And that didn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Many were just ordinary people, from all walks of life, that normally wouldn’t raise any red flags. That was the scary part!

    Unfortunately, there is no typical profile for a sexual predator as one might think. And the ones that do get caught are usually the dumb ones. Since only about one in four victims of sexual abuse come forward to report the incident for various reasons (shock, guilt, embarrassment in the community, fear of ridicule, fear of retribution, fear that no one would believe them, various stigmas involved – the list is endless), it’s up to you to be proactive in protecting your children and yourself from such a horrendous nightmare. Forget trying to figure out who is or is not a predator and just assume that everyone has the potential and that it can happen anywhere. The sly ones, generally known as sociopaths, can offend right under your nose and then interact with you as if nothing happened.

    There has always been a debate as to whether predators can be rehabilitated or trusted after they offend. Many believe that once they have eaten from the forbidden fruit and you’ve crossed that line, then there’s no going back. Unfortunately, history reinforces these concerns as those convicted of a sexual crime have a strong likelihood of re-offending. It is hard to rehabilitate but is possible if they have the desire to get better and are willing to put in place strict safeguards and repercussions for themselves in order to prevent a relapse from reoccurring. However, regardless of who it is, your guard should always be up equally with everyone. My mother still counts and re-counts any money exchange that we have and I’m pretty sure she trusts me (I think?). By doing so, she explained, that it benefits both parties in case there’s too much or too little. This should be the same practice you have with the welfare of your children. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

    I don’t want to scare you or cause you to be paranoid but this is the reality. Listen to your instincts when you get that funny feeling that something just doesn’t feel right. I realize that no one can monitor their children’s whereabouts at all times. Besides, who’d want to live like that anyway? This is merely a wake-up call for you to empower your children to be aware of their surroundings and fight back. They must not hesitate in their response to a predator and should immediately seek help and notify others, which may also protect other potential victims. Unfortunately, many people freeze up or go into shock when confronted with a scary situation. Predators wait for this opportunity and try to isolate a victim (or victims) in order to attack. Hence, your best line of defense is to stay in a group if possible and/or deter them with a show of strength by being assertive to escape the threat. We may never be able to detect or catch all the ‘wolves’ in our society but at least we can choke them out and curb their success by not allowing ourselves to be prey!