Whether you realize it or not, your troubled teen has a heightened vulnerability to sexual predators. Of course, there are technical distinctions between pedophilia (sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children), the less commonly used term ephebophilia (sexual attraction to adolescents), and the legal term statutory rape (referring to sexual advances toward adolescents under 18, the official age of consent). At the same time, though, the profile of a sexual predator is fairly predictable. And you can teach your tween or teenager to recognize and resist their lures.
While the stereotype of a middle-aged white male may not seem fair, there is certainly reason for such an image. Consider these statistics:
- How many are over 40? approximately 25%
- How many are white? approximately 70%
- How many are male? 97%
Additional characteristics of reported child molesters include their having been victimized as a child and having multiple victims.
Many parents of young children are quick to teach their kids not to talk to “strangers” or accept gifts from or open their door for people they don’t know. While that advice can certainly help protect children and teens from violent criminals, sexual predators are fairly unlikely to fit the profile of a dangerous stranger. Consider these facts:
- 30% of violent crimes against minors are committed by a parent of that child.
- 50% of such criminals have other relationships with their victims.
- Less than 15% of predators are strangers to the children they molest.
- 75% of violent crimes against children take place in home of either the victim or the offender.
From clergy to teachers, uncles to step-dads, friends’ dads to friendly neighbors, trusted adults can use their relationships with your teen in order to victimize him or her.
The fact that your teen or your family in general is having difficulties can provide an opportunity for a would-be predator to lure your teen with affection and promised assistance in the midst of their personal struggles. Knowing your teen may be on the lookout for alcohol or drugs, they can use those to lure them closer, as well. Authority figures such as teachers, clergy, family friends, or relatives can easily manipulate emotionally vulnerable teens into sharing secrets with them, secrets that can provide blackmail later. That blackmail can be leveraged to gain them sexual favors that teens know are inappropriate.
The long-term negative results of sexual abuse can far outlast your teenager’s adolescent rebellion or family strain. Understanding the profile of a predator is the first step in protecting your already troubled teen against further trauma.
Read the Series
- Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles, Part 1: Profile of a Pedophile
- Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles, Part 2: Protections Against Abuse
- Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles, Part 3: Reducing Opportunities for Abuse
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