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Things You Need to Know About Child Molesters

Things You Need to Know About Child Molesters


What is the profile of a child molester? An average child molester will offend 200–400 times before being caught, if ever. The vast majority of offenders do not get caught, and they have no criminal records. According to the FBI, only one out of ten cases of child sexual abuse is reported to law enforcement.

Many of the statistics on these types of crimes are gleaned from incarcerated perpetrators, who have provided civil authorities with an inside view into the lives of child molesters. This information has helped law enforcement authorities ascertain that only the tip of the iceberg is being disclosed and reported.

Child molesters usually begin their pattern of behavior while still teensChild molesters usually begin their pattern of behavior while still teens. If they are apprehended at a young age, intense rehabilitation has been found to have success. The vast majority of child molesters are male, and most sexual abusers were sexually abused as children.

Rather than appearing to be “monsters,” perpetrators usually try to be very charming and friendly. After gaining widespread trust, over time, some eventually even head nonprofit organizations of various kinds dealing with youth, giving the molesters not only easy access but also free rein.

Child molesters tend to rationalize their sexual interests and validate their behavior. They tend to show an excessive interest in children, and often seduce children with attention, affection and gifts. They lie and manipulate, typically very skillfully.

It is normal for children to learn early on that their survival depends on adults. Besides fulfilling the emotional and physical needs of children, adults are bigger and stronger. Children are instructed to respect and obey adults, but the exceptions to this need to be clearly taught as well.

Teen/adult child molesters exploit their size and status to influence and control a child’s behavior, enticing the child into sexual activity. Clever and experienced child molesters lower a child’s inhibitions by gradually seducing them, easily exploiting a child’s natural curiosity and the lack of prevention education that a particular child may have.

Even children who are getting attention and affection at home still appreciate it from others in their lives. It is important to realize that all children, even those from “normal” homes, are at risk from a molester’s seduction techniques, if they have not been trained how to deal with them. Although all children are at risk, child molesters particularly seek out shy and naive children; children with disabilities; and children who are experiencing loneliness, emotional neglect or strong feelings of alienation. Children who are not educated about child molesters are the most vulnerable of all.

In addition, since large numbers of children are now being raised in single-parent families, this is seen as advantageous by child molesters. Many working parents are overly desperate for readily available babysitters and those offering extra free attention to their children. Pedophiles master manipulative skills and use them most effectively on troubled children by first building up the child’s self-esteem, appealing to their need to be heard, understood and valued.

Children who are not educated about child molesters are the most vulnerable of allShowering their prospective victims with attention, offenders may also offer treats, trips to desirable places that children enjoy, or special privileges. Once a child has accepted many “kind” offers from the molester, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the child to assert him- or herself and refuse the molester’s advances, which tend to get more confusing very gradually.

Once child molesters have chosen their potential victims, they work hard at patiently developing relationships with them. Since this grooming process can sometimes go on for years, it is common for child molesters to cultivate many prospective victims at a time. A large number of predators believe that what they are doing is not wrong, and that being intimate with a child is actually “healthy” for the child. After extended molestation, children and preteens can actually grow attached to their offender and become jealous when the offender’s attention goes to others who are younger, once they have reached a certain age. Their entire lives have been colored by the abuse.

Much information about how molesters operate has been gained by interviewing incarcerated offenders. The perpetrators invariably explain how they identify their potential victims by assessing their vulnerability as well as the opportunity to offend. The gullibility and naivete of the children are main factors considered by offenders when selecting their victims. They choose those whom they ascertain can be manipulated into a vulnerable situation, and then the children’s vulnerability is further exploited.

It is extremely hard to stand up to a molester if a child has not been proactively prepared beforehand to do so. Offenders often progressively test their victims to see their reactions, by getting physically too close for comfort with them, by making somewhat suggestive comments or “off-color” jokes, or by roughhousing with them. They make deliberately confusing statements like, “Sometimes friends/family will help each other and touch each other.” Predators commonly first begin to touch private parts of the victim’s body by brushing up against them “accidentally on purpose.” If confronted, the perpetrators have a ready excuse like “I was just kidding” or “it was an accident.” When the victim does not stop the predator’s incremental advances, this is viewed by the offender as a signal to progress further.

Even though what happened to them was not their fault, they still feel like it wasAn offender may put added pressure on the victim if he senses that there is still potential to molest, by saying something like “You’re hurting my feelings by saying no.” When children are molested, they are left enormously guilt-ridden. Even though what happened to them was not their fault, they still feel like it was.

Children are also left deeply confused, as they may often feel like they cooperated if they enjoyed both the attention as well as the physical sensations that come with the molestation. This is one major reason why it is difficult for children to disclose that they were preyed upon, as they may not even understand what they experienced until many years later. They are usually left feeling “dirty” and intensely ashamed, largely blaming themselves for the most intimate type of predation that they were lured, tricked, and sometimes threatened into enduring.

Once a child has become a victim of a particular predator, the re-victimization can often take on a repetitive and ritualistic nature. When the molestation continues over long periods of time, the child may often cope by essentially separating the offender into two different people when dealing with his or her “uncle & monster,” “older brother & rapist” or “youth group leader & predator,” for example, while watching his or her perpetrator parade around, respected and above reproach.

If predators are ever caught by adults unfamiliar with how offenders operate, the molesters typically and quickly claim either that the child was the seducer, or that it was the first time that they ever did anything like that, and provide some “plausible” excuse for why it happened just that one time. It is standard practice for offenders to express great remorse, insisting in a very convincing way that they feel terrible about what they did, and of course, they promise that they “will never do it again.”

As people who genuinely want to make this world a better place, we try very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. We strive to not speak badly about people. And we believe that people can repent for their wrong deeds. Pedophiles know this, and they take advantage of our sincere efforts.

This is why it is important for us to learn and to teach others about the things you never wanted to know about child molesters.

Pointers for Parents:

  • Calmly and clearly, teach your children about personal safety, in age-appropriate ways, from age three and up, each year adding on more age-appropriate details. Role-playing different scenarios is a very effective proactive tool. Try to prevent your children from learning about this in a much harder way.
  • Be wary, and openly communicate through calm and concerned questions, with a child if he or she appears to be uncharacteristically uncomfortable or expresses negativity around a particular adult male or teen—even if the person is a neighbor, close friend of the family, relative, or respected community member.
  • Calmly and clearly, teach your children about personal safety, in age-appropriate waysBe wary, and openly communicate through calm and concerned questions, with a child who is receiving special favors or gifts from an adult male or teen.
  • Be wary, and openly communicate through calm and concerned questions with a child, if anybody—including teachers, coaches, counselors, youth group leaders, doctors or babysitters, as well as relatives, ever meets privately in a room with a closed door with a child for any reason, or goes off with them to any place where they are alone.
  • If a child discloses that he or she has been sexually abused, never blame the child for any of their actions or for not telling you sooner. Victims of abuse require support.
  • If a child discloses that he or she has been sexually abused, don’t rely on anyone else to fulfill your obligation. Call 911.
  • Remember that perpetrators can look you right in the eye and lie easily. They are masters of deception. Leave investigations for forensic experts.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, professional training materials

One Sex Offender’s Strategy

Editor’s Note: The Crown Heights Rabbinical Board has ruled that in any case of suspected child abuse, one must go immediately to the police and not attempt to deal with it internally.

Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author of several children’s books, including Remarkable Park, What Do You See in Your Neighborhood? and The Invisible Book. You can contact Bracha for presentations or questions here.
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Bracha Goetz Baltimore July 10, 2017

Yes, Marie, rape/abuse is motivated by the desire to control another human being. This can result from having experienced a traumatic lack of control in childhood due to severe and repeated abuse. Reply

Marie Inkpen London July 12, 2017
in response to Bracha Goetz:

"Can result".
But I still don't buy it.
I have also read that paedophilia is a sexual orientation preference like heterosexuality, homosexuality, bestiality - innate and impossible to change.
And it's one thing to have these desires, quite another thing entirely to act them out. Reply

Marie Inkpen London June 30, 2017

PS Nobody would claim that rapists of adult women were raped themselves as children.
Rape/abuse is motivated by the desire to control another human being. Reply

Bracha Goetz Baltimore June 27, 2017

In response to Anonymous, To be clear: Most children who are abused DO NOT become abusers. Reply

Marie Inkpen London June 30, 2017
in response to Bracha Goetz:

I do think researchers need to take into account that most child abusers are gifted liars and that the ones who claim to have been abused themselves as children probably weren't.
In the UK at least, a claimed history of abuse might get them a reduced prison sentence or a hospital order. Reply

Dave Tracy NB Canada December 4, 2016

Tks that was an excellent article appreciate very much Reply

vida cropas St. Norbert, June 7, 2016

It happened to my kids... Thank you for this excellent article that touches on all the important points. Reply

Bracha Goetz Baltimore April 14, 2016

Repsonse to Anonymous from the author Most sexual abusers were sexually abused as children. However - and this is VERY important so I am very glad you brought this up - most survivors of sexual abuse DO NOT become abusers themselves. Reply

Anonymous Born June 24, 2017
in response to Bracha Goetz:

Most abusers were NOT abused as children. It's a very harmful statement. Where are the sources? Reply

Anonymous April 13, 2016

" most sexual abusers were sexually abused as children". I doubt !! " most sexual abusers were sexually abused as children". This is not true according to most empirical research that I read. Someone who was sexually molested or abused know the disastrous effects on a person. Most of them they don t even consider it apart some exceptions. Reply

WAYNE Taiwan February 10, 2014

Speak up Thank you for the article Bracha, which is very informative. I just want to tell all of you who are reading this article, especially to those of you whom have been victimized by child molesters, speak up. Don't be quiet, don't keep it to yourself. If you know a child who is being molested, speak up, report to the police, do something, shout! If you're being molested, for goodness sake, tell your parents, tell the person you can trust, dial the Child Protection Hotline, tell your pastor, speak up! I don't deny that this world is messed up and there are bunch of perverted people lurking around, but you CAN expose them, yes expose them cuz they are afraid of the light! You don't have to be hurt any longer. I understand there will be shame, threat, guilt, isolation...etc following, but if you don't something, these molesters are going to continue doing this heinous crime. Reply

Marie Inkpen London February 4, 2014

I thought this was a very good article except for one thing.
It acknowledges that paedophiles are liars and manipulators and masters of deception but still repeats the lie that most paedophiles were themselves abused as children.
This is just another lie that paedophiles use to get sympathetic treatment and a reduced sentence.
I am sick of the perpetuation of this myth.
The vast majority of people who were abused would NEVER put another child through what they suffered themselves.
Paedophilia is about control. Reply

Anonymous January 16, 2014

I was molested by my teacher. I wish I told my parents earlier. It went on for two years, my parents were fooled the whole time. And I had so much guilt that me saying something to anyone was the worst thing I could do!(It felt like it at the time). It's a scary world we live in. Just make sure you read this and see the signs if you have children. Ty for hearing my story, I hope it prevents future situations like mine. I wouldn't want anyone or anyone's family to endure the pain, suffering, and deceit we've endured. These signs are the exact signs I wish I saw growing up. It actually just brought me in the past for a second, I have goosebumps thinking of this situation. Reply

Anonymous December 30, 2013

My dad I just found out my dad might be a child molester. My sister who is now an adult, claims my biological father, her stepfather, molested her. Years ago, she told my mother and grandmother. However, nothing came of it. They couldn't decided whether she was lying or telling the truth. At the time something very tragic happened to my sister. My father made it worse by beating her. So, it is speculated that my sister was lying in attempt to get back at my dad. My sister tells a lot of lies and has done a lot of dirt ( as a result of her incident ). However, I've never known her to lie on people's character. I don't want to believe my sister is telling the truth. But she probably is. As a matter of fact I sometimes hate her for telling the truth. She is a grown woman now. Why would she keep saying this about my dad if it weren't true? The truth must be told. What I don't understand is why my sister let her children live in the same house with my dad. She just left them with my parents. Reply

chris Floyd VA December 7, 2013

friends i didn't know this but a friend of mine years ago was a child molester Reply

Ang December 5, 2013

That would be true anyways All people could be a threat, u have to work through ur feelings, I use to hate people, always think the worst of them, everyone was goin to hurt me in some way, I have been seeing a doc for over 3 years and we are making progress ...... Not everyone is goin to hurt u, or lie to you. There are good people in the world. Reply

Anonymous usa December 5, 2013

everything is a lie so true, everything is a lie now...every last word of it, every last happy moment is a lie...i can't trust anybody...i can't even watch a movie because all i think is that the happy ending is a lie-that man is a scam, that poor woman is about to get played in his disgusting game, those poor kids are about to suffer tremendously....every time i see a family in public happy, i just think-...that man is going to hurt them all eventually....all i see now is ulterior motives for every kind act.i hate feeling this way, thinking these thoughts, but i just can never ever trust anyone ever again....especially now with all these female molesters-I CAN'T TRUST ANYONE ANYMORE but my mom and sister...everybody else could be a potential LIAR.i'm so disgusted with myself for being involved with such a perverted evil person that lied to me so well....i really thought i was dealing with a wonderful, caring, nice person....but no.all that patience and kindness WAS A LIE.a long long LIE.evil. Reply

Ang December 3, 2013

I am not so sure I am not so sure if it would have helped them, the damage ur dad did is a forever scare on those females he molested, he put his own selfish needs above a child.
I am glad u are talking about it and wish u luck in ur journey of life. And I also wish those that ur dad hurt and scared for life can somehow get through the hurt and pain he has caused them for it is a every day struggle for them. Reply

Anonymous South Africa December 3, 2013

@Ang I really understand how you feel and thank you so much for your honesty. I think this discussion could be good for both of us and not just me? I hope so because I know what damage my dad did to some of the kids (emotionally as he was a groomer so not violent) and I think it would have helped those girls if they could have spoken to me. I live very far away from my old home town now.
Imagine if you had a good relationship with your mom and found out once you were in your 20's that all that time when you adored her, she was actually a serial killer. It's very hard to change the way you feel. Your entire childhood memory is suddenly a lie. I am unable to look at photo's of my dad. I really feel for you and although my pain is nowhere near as bad as yours, I do too have huge conflict and I thank you for talking to me. Reply

Ang November 29, 2013

No to be honest, I can't My sisters where never touched by my dad and they feel the same as u do, but also they don't believe he even did it to me so, I don't understand even if he hasn't touched you .... How can you even have a good thought of a man that would touch a young girl in that way and get off on it ,,,,,, they are sick in the head, a monster that ruins people's life, weather it' happened to u or not , there is a very dark, sickening Side to people that would do this to anyone . Reply

Anonymous South Africa November 28, 2013

@Ang Oh I know he is (was) a pedophile (he's been dead a few years). I've seen the proof. It is a very strange situation for me because it all came to light only when i was an adult. i loved my dad very much and we had a very good relationship; and i mean that in an innocent way. Now, 27 years later, I'm only dealing with it. I don't know why it took so long. I know his victims would describe him as you do and I am very conflicted BECAUSE I still love him as my dad. I have never spoken to any of his victims although they were school friends back then so your opinions are very interesting to me. Do you find it odd that I could still love him? Can you even understand that? Reply

Ang November 27, 2013

Does it matter My father didn't molest my sister or his other daughter but he did me, does it make him a better molester because he didn't molest every girl . NO he is a monster a nasty selfish dispicable excuses of a human . Period . My sister doesn't believe me because he didn't mess with her, if u can say " my father is a molester" then some part of u believe that he is and he is sick. Reply

Anonymous south africa November 27, 2013

@Ang This is my concern. My (blood) father was a molester but my siblings and me have no recollection of being molested ourselves. We don't know if it is a supressed memory or if he didn't touch us. People ask me why I want to know - let sleeping dogs (or memories) lie but I need to know. Not sure why; maybe because I can't help but love my dad and am perhaps trying to rationalise it. Reply

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