Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to spot a pedophile

"I have a lot of guilt that I didn't see it. That I didn't protect them."

It's a parent's worst nightmare and a reality for this woman. Her two daughters say they were sexually abused by a man she was married to for years, something she says she never saw coming.

"He was good at hiding it. He always did it when I wasn't home," she said.

It wasn't until 10 years after the alleged abuse that her oldest daughter stepped forward, soon followed by her younger sister.

"I feel real proud of them that they came forward, you know, and I hope this is going to help them. I think it's going to help anyone that comes forward," she added.

This woman says she had no idea her children were being abused under her own roof.

It raises the question: Can you spot a predator before they have a chance to ruin lives?

"They're not the creepy guy that's lurking in the park, that everyone would expect to see, or crazy, or that sort of thing," explains Cindy McElhinney of Darkness to Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to reduce sexual abuse cases through public education and awareness. "They're normal and they go out of their way to fit in."

She says predators can't be spotted with the naked eye and that they will seek multiple avenues to be near children.

Once they've found those avenues, she says they may overstep the line of physical contact.

"They blur touching boundaries, such as tickling and roughhousing, brushing up against them," McElhinney explains.

Pedophiles will isolate certain kids and begin grooming them.

"They'll give gifts or give them special attention or privileges," she says.

The number one thing you can do to protect your child is to go with your gut.

"Adults may not say anything because they're not sure they're right," says McElhinney. "The thing that's important is that it's our obligation if we see something to say something."

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