Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cyber Predator vs. Jerry Sandusky

There are many lessons to be learned about child safety from the events at Penn State -- perhaps none more relevant to our "techy" time in history than the vast majority of child sexual predators live offline and are VERY familiar to their victims. Jerry Sandusky did not use a computer to groom his victims, but instead used face-to-face kindness, generosity, trust, and opportunity.

The Berkman Center at Harvard has disputed the "cyber predator" as a common event and have strongly encouraged everyone who has children or works with children to look at offline predators as posing the greatest risk. It is crucial to focus on the fact that 90% of all child sexual abuse comes at the hands of a person who the child knows and trusts (60% involve some one in the child/teen's family).

The fact that Jerry Sandusky was able to use his charitable foundation and access to Penn State athletic facilities to find, groom, and abuse children does not surprise me in the least. He did what many pedophiles do: they find a public venue to identify vulnerable children and then rely on the adults surrounding the child to look the other way, to be in denial, to rationalize deviant and violent behavior. Yes, there is an expectation by clever pedophiles that the egregious nature of their offense will be allowed to proceed because no one who knows the pedophile (as a stand up guy) will want to get involved accuse the pedophile of an unspeakable act (shame on you JoePA and every one on your staff!).

So, remember that the Sandusky story is really SOP for pedophiles -- as is the lack of action by Penn State. Cyber space can be aa dangerous place for sure -- but the most skilled sexual predators are next door, at the YMCA, coaching youth sports, or running an organization for at risk youth.

Christopher Mulligan LCSW

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