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The Truth About Child Predators
by Pam Coronado
As a private investigator who specializes in child abductions, I know intimately how child predators operate. In having to engage and study pedophiles I have learned much about them. I want to pass on the bare truth to parents about the dangers their children really face in today's world and shed light on many common misconceptions about child safety.
Myth 1: Teaching my children not to talk to strangers will keep them safe.
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Truth: Many of the children kidnapped from their "safe" neighborhoods did not interact with a stranger at all but were grabbed by someone who jumped out of a car. Predators troll neighborhoods in search of easy targets, I know this for a fact. Kids need to be taught to always stay with their friends when playing in the front yard, preferably under the supervision of an adult, otherwise they should play in the back yard where it is safer. Children also need to be taught to scream, yell, kick and fight even if the abductor threatens to hurt them if they are not quiet. If the abductor covers their mouth with one hand, the child needs to bite them as hard as possible and then continue screaming FIRE, FIRE. This is extremely important. See my article "Smart Hearts for Kids" for more self-defense details and how to stop from being taken away in a car.
Myth 2: I should teach my children to fear all strangers.
Truth: Though this has been the common approach to the problem over the years, I know it doesn't work for many reasons. Children who have been taught this are too afraid to ask anyone for help if they become lost or find themselves being followed. This leaves them vulnerable to real danger. Teaching children to mistrust all strangers also gives them a very negative impression of humanity and makes them feel powerless. Children need to learn the difference between predators and plain old strangers. A stranger could just save your child's life one day. Teaching children how to effectively deal with all strangers, good and dangerous, will empower them. Again see my "Smart Hearts for Kids" on these principles.
Myth 3: I should teach my child to find the nearest police officer or security guard if they become lost.
Truth: Ted Bundy was a security guard. My next door neighbor, who stabbed his girlfriend to death, was a security guard. Security guards do not get background checks before being hired. Enough said. As for finding a police officer, this is also a bad idea. You don't want to encourage the child to wander far off from the place you last saw them so finding a police officer could be quite impractical in some situations. I encourage children to find a person they feel comfortable with, possibly another mother, and ask for help.
Myth 4: Children are usually taken from stores, fairs or other crowded public places.
Truth: Approximately 85% of child abductions occur within 1/4 mile of the home or school. The most common kidnapping scenario happens right in front of the home or very near the home in the evening hours between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. when the children are playing outside. Children riding bikes and roller blades are often the targets. Children walking to and from school alone are the second favorite victim group, as with a child waiting alone at a bus stop. The riskiest situation is a child leaving a friend's house unescorted late at night.
Myth 5: Young children are too weak and small to fight off an adult.
Truth: Given the proper tools any child can escape the grip of an adult. See "Smart Hearts for Kids" for details. This knowledge will empower your child.
Myth 6: Strangers present the greatest threat to kids.
Truth: While stranger abduction is very real with often tragic consequences, stranger abductions make up a small percentage of all missing kids in this country. Relatives, non-custodial parents, grandparents and family friends are the most likely to actually kidnap a child. Molestation is even more rampant with relatives, neighbors, friend's father's, coaches, clergy, school employees, and even bus drivers being the common perpetrators. Any time a child tells you they are uncomfortable with a person LISTEN. Denial serves only one purpose... to keep your child in danger. I have little patience with parents who refuse to listen to their children or acknowledge their discomfort. Not only do you have to listen to your child and protect your child the way nature intended for you to, you must heed your own gut feelings about the people who interact with your child. As a parent, this is your responsibility.
Myth 7: Coaches, clergy, camp counselors, bus drivers and clowns are harmless.
Truth: Coaches, clergy, camp counselors, bus drivers and clowns DO NOT require background checks before they can interact with your child. While you may find it personally difficult to mistrust these people it's important to know that these are favored positions for pedophiles. Pedophiles have a compulsion and obsession about children and will do whatever they can to be near them, waiting for an opportunity to get them alone. If you have ANY doubts about a person who interacts with your child listen to your gut instincts. Nothing is a stronger indicator of problems than your own instincts. If any inkling of doubt arises follow through and check the person out.
Pam Coronado is the mother of three school-aged children and a licensed
private detective who specializes in cases of missing and abducted children.
For more information about Pam, please use this link.
You can visit Pam's site at http://www.pamcoronado.com
or email her at IamPam@earthlink.net