Understanding the Pedophiles Among Us
Pedophilia By John Cloud/Baltimore, 2003
The flood of reports could almost make you think that everyone who sexually abuses a child is a Roman Catholic priest. In fact, the perpetrators are a disturbingly diverse lot. There's the Chicago-area nurse who molested up to 18 patients, including a 9-year-old girl who had suffered a brain aneurysm and later died. There's the 33-year-old Nevada day-care worker who committed hundreds of sexual acts on at least nine children, mostly ages 2 and 3--and videotaped them. Some of the most heartbreaking allegations involve the American Boychoir School, a top choral program in Princeton, N.J. More than a dozen alumni from the 1960s to the '80s now say they were sexually abused by at least 11 former staff members. Says John Hardwicke Jr., 44, who claims he was raped repeatedly at the boarding school: "What we all seemed to share was this sense of darkness." ...
Many people assume that not only priests but also teachers, Boy Scout leaders and other adults who work with kids are responsible for most child sexual abuse, but that's a misconception. Half of child sexual abusers are the parents of the victims; other relatives commit 18% of the offenses. And the sad truth is that preventing incest is nearly impossible. Less than one-third of perpetrators know their victims from outside the home. But non-family abusers may be easier to pick out--many are adults who shower uncommon attention on children--and thus easier to stop.
Chances are that pedophiles know their victims and are more than often relatives of their victims. Sad but true.