The Silence That Surrounds Child Molestation
In 1992 while living in Los Angeles, actor and magician Steve Valentine invited me to be his guest at the world famous Hollywood Magic Castle. The Castle is a private club dedicated to the promotion of magic as an art form and hobby. Club members perform their illusions up-close, chair-side, right under your nose. Afterward, our group ended up at my apartment where Steve was gracious enough to show us more magic. Amazed at how easy it was to fool us, I asked him point blank, “Why can’t we figure it out?”
His answer has stuck in my mind for almost 20 years. “Magicians can get away with it,” he said, “because we know how you think.” Having a degree in communication and psychology, I was riveted by the idea that the majority of humans (myself included) process the world through a homogenous lens that others can easily manipulate to fool us into seeing exactly what they want us to. And what’s truly discouraging, as anyone who has ever been privy to the workings of a magic trick can attest, is how mindlessly simple the bending of reality needs to be to completely fool everyone. I had always believed the wonder of magic rested within the skill of the magician. Come to find out, it’s more accurately rooted in the conformed ignorance of the audience.
What I learned that night has proven instrumental in my understanding of how child predators actually get away with their crimes.
Thus far society has no pragmatic solution to stop child molesters from acting upon their criminal desires. The best we can do is:
1. Discourage them through lengthy prison terms
2. Thwart their attempts by edifying and monitoring our children
3. Catch them and lock them away
Although there have been great advances in mandatory sentencing laws (eg. Jessica’s Law) the legal process is still very much out of the average parent’s control. Lengthy prison terms should not be our top priority because in order to have any effect, the offender must first be reported, arrested, and convicted. Our first priority should be to prepare our children against an enemy who hasn’t yet been captured. We will save countless more children through proactive education than we can ever hope through sentencing the few who get caught.
My books remind parents that Predators only reveal themselves to other Predators and children. In other words, our children are the entire front-line of defense and fortunately they are completely capable of both thwarting an attack and turning the offender into the police. However, statistics show they are poorly prepared to do either. Our front-line is failing miserably and child molestation is far from diminishing the number of victims it claims.
Consider the following:
- Child molestation is one of the most under-reported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed. 1
- Only 12% of all cases of child abuse are reported. 2
- An average serial child molester has between 360-380 victims in his lifetime. 3
For a moment, let’s forget about the thwarting and simply question the reason why children are not reporting the attacks. Obviously something isn’t working. Even in the watered down sex abuse prevention programs taught in our schools, children are encouraged to tell a trusted adult.
Is it reasonable to assume the child doesn’t realize they’re being molested, or is it safe to believe a sexually abused child knows very well they are a victim? The related problems—social reclusion or acting out, fallen grades, lack of focus, and depression, to name a few—that befall an abused child all clearly indicate the psyche of the child is completely aware of the evil happening upon them. Why then? Why are they not reporting it?
The answer is simple; like a magician, predators get away with it because they know how children think, and as a result they’re able to convince adult eyes to see exactly what they want us to see; an ILLUSION that nothing is wrong.
Learn The Trick, Destroy The Illusion
My mission is to help parents teach their children the tricks Predators will attempt to pull and the spells of fear they will attempt to cast so that children are finally able to see outside the illusion.
It is not the skilled mastery of the Predator that allows them to molest and rape our children and get away with it; rather it is the conformed ignorance of our children. We must therefore make every effort to arm our children with pragmatic information to help them to fight back and destroy the monsters who would hurt them.
Learn the tricks. Destroy the illusion. Stop child molestation.
1 Source: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
2 Source: Hanson, R.F., Resnick, H.S., Saunders, B.E., Kilpatrick, D.G., & Best, C. (1999). Factors relating to the Reporting of Childhood Sexual Assault. Child Abuse and Neglect, (23) 559-569.
3 Source: South Carolina Forcible Sex Crimes (1999). Summary, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Columbia, SC.