Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Slaughter of Innocence

If You Suspect

Do not talk yourself out of your own suspicions. Sometimes people will convince themselves that they are not seeing what they are seeing. Feelings of self-doubt are often supported by the strong denials from the suspect. These denials will be accompanied by expressions of shock, outrage and even indignation that he could even be suspected of such conduct. He will frequently make partial admissions or comments such as: "I was only bathing her!" or "I was just hugging her, I love her you know." The suspect will sometimes enlist the support of friends and colleagues who will attest to his sincerity and reputation. This pattern is typical especially among preferential child molesters. If you think an adult, friend or relative, is paying an excessive amount of attention on your young child or any child, be cautious. Talk over your suspicions with your spouse or someone you trust. Above all, make inquiries to your child. You will notice some behavioral changes in a child who is being actively abused. These changes may include:

  • Any sudden and unexpected change in a child's traditional behavior.
  • He or she complains of frequent nightmares.
  • A new fear of a place where the child has visited before or a new fear of a person that he knows and has been in contact with. Be very suspicious if your child demonstrates this behavior.
  • A new awareness of sex related words, genitals or drawings of sexual themes.

Aside from psychological changes, look for physical signs of abuse such as anal or genital redness, bleeding or any type of suspicious injury to or near a child's genitals. But keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of child sex abuse cases do not include a visible physical injury. There can be many reasons that an injury will not occur in a sex abuse case. There may be no force involved, the abuse may not include the child's genitals or penetration may never have been accomplished. The abuse may be oral or consist of only touching. This is why molesters, when caught, will frequently encourage police to have the victim medically examined. They know there is no visible injury to substantiate the charge. They believe that a medical examination will support their claims of innocence. Never underestimate the cleverness of these people. But the astute investigator knows that the absence of an injury does not settle the matter, nor does it prove conclusively that abuse did not take place.

Remember that children who are being sexually abused are experiencing conflicting and painful emotions that they cannot sort out or understand. But this does not mean the situation can't be verbalized. Children are more resilient than we give them credit for and the children that recover the best from sexual abuse are the ones whose parents took a proactive response to the situation. We can only do that by arming ourselves with the tools of knowledge and vigilance. It is up to us, the caretakers of children, guardians of their safety and their dreams, to assume control, cast off the terrible bonds of sexual abuse and bring their nightmare to an end.


There are many ways to seek and obtain help:

Remember, you are not alone. There are many dedicated people and organizations that fight child sexual assault and the threat of Internet pornography every day. Visit these sites with your children. They include:

www.childlures.com is a program that informs children, parents and educators of safety issues regarding children and adults and also offers an Internet safety pact that your child can read and sign.

www.cyberangels.org which promotes child safety, abuse prevention with a guardian angel theme.

www.enough.org which is a Web site that protects children from pornography and online predators.

www.pedowatch.org is one of the oldest Web sites in existence that works in conjunction with law enforcement to combat pornography and child seducing on the Internet.

www.prevent-abuse-now.com which is the home for Inside Pandora's Box, a wealth of information regarding children and internet access.

www.troopers.state.ny.us which is the home for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in the State of New York

www.officer.com which provides hundreds of links to a wide array of police agencies in every state in America. No matter where you live, you will find a police agency close to home.

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