Myth #1–Teaching my kid to not talk to strangers will keep my kid safe.
The reality is that the majority of children molested are abused by someone they know well. Only about 10% of victims of child sexual abuse are abused by a stranger. Teaching your kids not to talk to strangers is a poor way to keep your child from being sexually abused.
Myth #2–If my child is being abused, he or she would let me know.
Absolutely false. Around 5% of victims ever tell others, including parents, of their abuse. Pedophiles are exceptionally good at grooming the child to believe that they initiated contact or that if they ever tell, they or their family will be harmed in some way. Many abusers are fathers or step-fathers and tell children that if they ever tell, they will be responsible for the family falling apart. It is not uncommon for survivors of abuse who disclose the abuse, to do it years after the abuse took place. Most notable are the men who disclosed their abuse by Jerry Sandusky years after the abuse took place. The public questions this. Professional counselors understand it. There are a host of reasons why children do not disclose abuse and we must always validate survivors who do tell.
Myth #3–If my child is abused, she will tell the abuser to stop.
Unfortunately, part of the grooming process is to build trust and reliance on the pedophile. Children almost never will tell an abuser to stop unless trained to do so.
Myth #4–I would easily notice if my child was being abused.
The reality is that most parents will never notice when their child is abused. In fact, many pedophiles will abuse a child with their clothes on directly in front of the parents. They do this for a few reasons: they are testing the child to see if the child will try to tell, they are testing the groomability of the parents (will they notice?/what can I get away with?), and they are proving to themselves that they are skilled at blatantly offending. Most parents won’t notice a hand or finger moving to the wrong place because they are not looking for it, especially from a trusted family friend.
Myth #5–Pedophiles are easy to pick out of a crowd.
Unfortunately, Hollywood is different from reality. Successful pedophiles are successful precisely because they have not been picked out of a crowd–by anyone! They are doctors, lawyers, preachers, judges, fathers, mothers, rich, and poor. Pedophiles can literally be anyone. Most pedophiles, while attracted to children, are productive members of society who work full time jobs, are married, and have children of their own. I never would have guessed in a million years that my father was a pedophile. He was a preacher and someone I knew well, respected, and never suspected was sexually assaulting children.
Myth #6–Churches are a safe place and pedophiles wouldn’t think of abusing there.
The reality is that churches are safe. . . for the abuser. Over 90% of pedophiles are regular church-goers. The fields of abuse are ripened for harvest because church-goers are naturally trusting of others, believe the best about other Christians, and believe that nobody would have the audacity to abuse in a place of worship. Many churches have no policies to protect children and allow others to be alone with their kids, granting them full access to abuse.
Myth #6–All sexual abusers are men.
While the vast majority of sexual abusers are men, women also sexually abuse children. Never assume that just because a woman is alone with your child, you child cannot be sexually abused.
Myth #7–Child molesters and pedophiles are synonymous.
A pedophile is someone who is habitually attracted to children. It is a recognized paraphilia disorder, though this is not without debate in the professional fields. The medical definition states that, in order to be a pedophile, the person must be at least 16 years of age, at least five years older than the child, and attracted to children for a period of at least 6 months. A pedophile becomes a molester when he sexually abuses a child. You can be a pedophile (habitually attracted to children) and not be a molester, though I know of no research to date that can prove there are any adult pedophiles who have not sexually abused a child.
A molester is any person who has sexual contact with a child. A person could be a molester and not be habitually attracted to children. For example, some children will sexually experiment with younger children one time out of curiosity without having any attraction to children. Therefore, a person can be a child molester but not be a pedophile.