Can pedophiles be decent?
April 9, 2007 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever known a pedophile who was a nice guy?

I'm a woman who just had her first baby, a little girl. I can't stop thinking about child predators. Who they are, what motivates them. (Possibly because of that harpie Nancy Grace and Chris Hanson and the evening news being slathered in lurid child abuse stories every single damn night).

Now I'm wondering.

Have you ever known a nice guy who you were shocked to later find out was attracted to children? But he wasn't faking being still can't help but think he was a decent guy with a bad bad desire?
posted by esereth to Society & Culture (75 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have never personally known anyone who was openly a pedophile, but this link may be of assistance:

Google search for "pedophile shocked neighbor"
posted by qvtqht at 4:50 PM on April 9, 2007

You know, sometimes it's the people you least expect. My mom and I used to go visit my aunt and cousins when I was about 7. I wanted to stay with my mom, because she didn't know my cousin was molesting me, but my aunt didn't have many friends and wanted to talk about adult stuff, and always told me to "go play with your cousin." So when the older girls were gone, I was alone with him. My mom was just a room or two away, and it was her nephew. He wasn't her favorite relative, but as she put it, "I never thought my brother's son would do it."

It's hard to be vigilant and yet not be overprotective. I'm sure a lot of these people are thought of as nice guys by others. Try not to stress yourself out with worries... there are so many things to worry about.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:53 PM on April 9, 2007

That is their game. They always come across as 'nice guys' to make you let down your guard so they can prey on your children. I have a 6 year old daughter and I trust no one with her. Sometimes that comes across as bitchy when I won't allow her to be alone with neighbors or friend's fathers but I don't care. Recently had someone in my circle (not close but still knew him) arrested with several hundred counts of child porn in his possession. All young girls. He was a nice guy. Kinda weird but still a nice guy by regular standards.That just strengthened my fortitude about this. You never know so keep your babies close.
posted by pearlybob at 4:58 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have never known such a person, no. Doubtless they exist, though. (Not that you would necessarily be able to tell a faking psychopath from the real thing--they are very good at it.)

However, the real issue here isn't how to spot pedophiles, the real issue is your fear of them. Trust me, all parents are irrationally fearful for quite a long time after the first baby. I remember sneaking in to my first born's room every couple hours to make sure he was till breathing. I wouldn't let him walk across pillows because I was afraid he'd fall down. I once spent several minutes lecturing him, at age 18 months, on kitchen step safety.

After a while, the fear starts to recede, especially if you have more children. Never completely, but this is by "design" (i.e. evolution).
posted by DU at 5:00 PM on April 9, 2007

There was a medical doctor in my hometown who was a scout leader. He was well-respected and well-liked. However, now that he's dead, his headstone should be desecrated.
posted by Egg Go Boom at 5:05 PM on April 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Of course pedophiles can be nice guys. It's a really strange question to ask, that seems more informed by hysteria than anything else.

Do you not think that Hitler was a nice guy to the people he loved? Of course he was. Certainly Eichmann was, and you might benefit from reading Eichmann in Jerusalem, which, although flawed, has the benefit of illustrating that "evil" isn't something that turns people into James Bond villians, it's something that persists along with, and despite, the goodness in people.

I don't say all this to be harsh, I'm sure it's terrifying to fantasize about all of the things in the world that you might not be able to protect your child from, but to suggest that the premise of your question is deeply flawed. Certainly it's true that all kinds of people can be, well, all kinds of people. If everyone who might do you or your family harm wore a sign to that effect, it would be easier to avoid them than it is.

You might be interested in this post at The Last Psychiatrist, while, though it doesn't address your question, does attempt to think critically (rather than fearfully) about pedophiles.
posted by OmieWise at 5:08 PM on April 9, 2007 [5 favorites]

Pearlybob's protectiveness is supported, I think, by statistics on sexual abuse of children.

I do a fair amount of law practice in juvenile court (I'm often appointed as a guardian ad litem in custody disputes, dependency & neglect proceedings, etc.), and juvenile court judges I practice in front of are virtually unanimous in their refusal to grant custody of a child to someone who has an unrelated adult or teenage male living in the home.

The judges explain that the risk of sexual abuse is too high. It's not sexist in the slightest ... it's protecting the children. (This is a case where "won't somebody think about the children" is actually an appropriate thing to exclaim!)
posted by jayder at 5:12 PM on April 9, 2007

Have you ever known a nice guy who you were shocked to later find out was attracted to children?

Almost all molestation is done by family members or others very close to the child and/or parents, so of course most molesters will be nice guys.

not comfortable with her being alone with ANYONE I don't know well

That might be very useful at keeping her from people whose values you don't like or who give her too much candy or whatever, but it will do precisely fuck-all to protect her from molestation. Unless you're claiming that you have some sort of amazing skill at spotting pedophiles, of course.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:19 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't know the exact numbers, but statistically, a child is dozens of times more likely to be molested/abused by someone close to the family — friend or relative — than by a total stranger. Just so you know.

On the other hand, most of what you are feeling is new mom jitters.
posted by Brittanie at 5:21 PM on April 9, 2007

The reality is that only 10 percent of child molesters are strangers to those they abuse (6 percent for children under 6 years old). About 30 to 40 percent are family friends or trusted adults. Typical child sex abusers -- 50 to 60 percent -- are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and brothers. (The percentage of women who sexually abuse children is low.)
This concurs with pretty much everything I've read on the subject.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:22 PM on April 9, 2007

Yes and no. I've known someone who was an extremely nice guy who was arrested for distributing child pornography. It was on the front page of all the papers here in Toronto and he was a school teacher. Quotes from cops and prosecutors claimed it was the largest bust for child pornography in North American history. Quotes from students were of disbelief and that he was one of the best teachers they'd ever had (he'd also won some teaching awards).

Frankly, I found it very hard to accept but that's a different thing from believing such a thing is possible.* He was an out gay man and a film encyclopedia--especially when it came to foreign film and gay cinema. (I knew him because he rented and bought films from me when I was in that business (not pornography, but film distro)).

Though I never hung out with him, I would say I knew him better than professionally and spoke with him for about one hour every week for almost five years. He was an extremely nice person and I imagined he was a superb teacher--the kind I would have loved to have in high school.

Now... here's the problem: I have not spoken to him since about a year before he was arrested because I got out of that business. But, about 8 months after his arrest, I saw him in line at a film at the Toronto Film Fest. (I saw him once again 2 years later.) Due to scheduling issues, I couldn't speak with him. I know someone else who has spoken with him and he claims the charges were false and trumped up and that the only films he had were gay films (not porno) that were from countries which had younger consent laws than here and that the police considered these child pornography even though legit businesses (such as my own) had access to them on the open market.

Considering I saw him on the street, I have assumed the charges were dropped. Regardless, I never read a single newspaper report about what happened after the arrest (which was in the papers for weeks). So, frankly, I don't know what happened, but I'm sure many people still consider him a pedophile and I don't doubt he doesn't work as a teacher anymore.

*In my experience, people both nice and not nice are capable of exactly the same things. The question of "can a nice person do such and such" seems very naive to me. My answer is "Of course!" My reason is that I don't think that severe crimes like murder or pedophilia are attributable to logic or forethought, but come from a compulsion beyond the control of the perpetrator, usually due to a mental issue that otherwise isn't apparent. Anyone can have such issues.
posted by dobbs at 5:24 PM on April 9, 2007

Of course they typically appear to be 'nice guys'.

As a father - I also won't let my daughter be taken care of by men alone. Fine if mom and a gaggle of kids are there.

Yes, it is biased. Too bad, so is bringing your kids up with a single religious perspective.

Look - in my limited circle of experience, I've had family members, friends and coworkers who have been abused - hell as kids, we lived next to a child predator (did not know that at the time - he left my sisters & I alone, unfortunately not his own grand-daughters).

Honestly - you can't be too careful, it only takes a single abuse to seriously harm a child for life.

It is not some shady guy in a trenchcoat you have to worry about - the faces of child predation include; principles, teachers, preschool teachers, janitors, lawyers, coaches, etc. It is the friendly guy who volunteers to look after the kids. Or the family friend who you let sleep on the basement couch. Uncles, cousins, etc.

That being said - there are not as many creeps out there as the media would like you to believe.
posted by jkaczor at 5:25 PM on April 9, 2007

My family was shocked a few years ago when my uncle was brought up on charges of possessing child porn. As the cliche goes, you'd never have expected it.

It would be a whole bunch easier if all pedophiles were completely evil, maniacal people, wouldn't it? We'd be able to spot them easily and hate them completely. But a lot of times they're everyday people who are seriously flawed. It makes it harder.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:27 PM on April 9, 2007

(Not that you would necessarily be able to tell a faking psychopath from the real thing--they are very good at it.)

Did you just imply that pedophiles are psychopaths?

I had a teacher in high school who turned out to be a pedophile and he was one of the nicest teachers at the school. Genuinely caring, funny and just all around nice. He never made a move on anyone at the school (the boys he was charged for molesting were around 9) and as cliche to say as it is he was the last person I would've suspected.

Pedophiles are for the most part exactly what you said: normal guys with a sexual proclivity for children. Sometimes it's a cycle of abuse sort of thing, the abuse victim becomes the abuser. Sometimes there's no good explanation. I don't have a reference for this but I'm pretty sure that predatory offenders are actually rare, with the majority of child sexual abuse cases being opportunistic and with the victim being related to the abuser.
posted by saraswati at 5:28 PM on April 9, 2007

I hired someone who was arrested in a Chris Hanson Dateline type sting. His resume showed him as having professional skills in a medical area (which was not close to what I was hiring him for).

When I asked him why he wasn't working in the medical field, he readily disclosed to me his arrest and it's circumstances. I found him to be an intense fascinating person and after some soul searching hired him for the position (which had no contact with kids). He was married with children. He said he engaged in the activities that led to his downfall for the excitement of it and for stress release (he was realllly intense).

My perception of him fits your initial description: He was a decent guy with a bad bad desire. My small business went belly up and he only worked for me for months, but I would hire him again in a flash.
posted by Xurando at 5:32 PM on April 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

My father was such a nice man there's a park named after him in the town where we lived. My brother-in-law, meh, but even so, you wouldn't have thought he'd make the most of 10 minutes left alone with a 4 year old while her mother collected another kid from the bus-stop.
posted by b33j at 5:33 PM on April 9, 2007

Can pedophiles be decent?

Not just "can be", but probably don't differ at all on any reliable face to face basis. Honestly these kind of ideas usually just fuel prejudice against harmless, law-abiding 'weirdos' (artists, goths, the poor, nerds, dorks, loners, losers, shut-ins, the ugly, etc) rather than 'protect' children.

It would be nice if the people who could hurt us had horns and scary cat eyes, but they don't. And the people who do have horns and cat eyes are probably less likely to hurt you.
posted by dgaicun at 5:33 PM on April 9, 2007

Actually, looks like I'm mistaken and my answer should be yes.

Here's an article that shows I'm not the only one who was surprised at his arrest.
posted by dobbs at 5:41 PM on April 9, 2007

I am a criminal lawyer with a fairly high percentage of sex offenders as clients. Echoing what many of the previous posters have said, the spectrum of nice-ness among pedophiles (or other predatory sex offenders for that matter) fairly accurately reflects the spread of nice-ness you would find in other offenders.

Over the last few years I've had sex-offender clients who were genuinely pleasant to deal with, with no hint of artifice in how they presented. I've had clients who, while socially adept, have off a vibe as though they had learned how to behave in a way to arouse the least suspicion and to facilitate an easy passage through life. And I've had clients who provoked an intense, instant loathing in all who interacted with them. Having said that, I could make a very similar statement with respect to white-collar fraudsters I have represented. It doesn't seem particularly correlated with the abhorrence of the crime with which they are charged either: the most genuinely pleasant alleged offender I have represented was the one charged with the most serious offences.

Granted, there are a very small percentage of sex offenders who fit the predator-in-a-white-van-with-soundproofing type description, much in the same way that there are nasty sharks who occasionally eat people at beaches. ie meaning that unless you never go outside, there's not a lot you can do about it. But fortunately the risk they pose is statistically minor. The overwhelming correlate with sex offences is unsupervised opportunity. Eliminate unsupervised opportunity, and you reduce risk dramatically.

There is one coda to this... and this is based neither on professional experience or on any research. I wonder if raising a child in an environment of intense distrust of strangers in general and men in particular might not end up causing problems for the child in later life. Perhaps the best approach would be to take the precautions you feel are necessary to reduce your perception of risk to a reasonable level, but try not to impart too much of the fear and loathing to your kid.
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:43 PM on April 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

While worrying about child predators is fine and good, I wonder if people are overlooking the other dangers.

I've never been targeted by a child predator. However, I was very heavily hit by racism and bullying. I was in a girl's school for 11 years and the bullying was quite serious - sometimes the teachers got in on it too. So protecting me from "the men" did nothing.

Just a thought.
posted by divabat at 5:48 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

whoops: second para, second sentence, have = gave
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:49 PM on April 9, 2007

Protecting the Gift is an absolutely spectacular book about protecting your child from risk. The author went through an abusive childhood and now does risk assessment for law enforcement. I highly recommend it if you want some practical suggestions on how to keep your kid safe. It's a hard read for a parent (bad things happen to kids) but the information is great.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:49 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Growing up I was good friends with a guy who seemed to be utterly normal in every way. After I left for college I was shocked to see him in the paper after he impregnated a 12 year old.
posted by unixrat at 5:50 PM on April 9, 2007

Lewis Carroll was a pedophile. He composed and wrote the Alice books because he was in love with Alice Liddell, the daughter of a good friend of his.

There's no evidence whatever that Charles Dogdson ever did anything wrong.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:52 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Who they are, what motivates them

Unless you're one, you can't know. The best description I ever heard was that they just have bad wiring, either by birth or from circumstances, and there's nothing society can currently do to fix it.

Andrew Vachss is lawyer specializing in defending kids that have been through abuse. He's also written several novels that deal with child abusers. It's not pretty stuff and can leave you up at night wondering "what the hell", but they're a fascinating look at pedophiles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 PM on April 9, 2007

Hm, I was never sexually assaulted myself, but these are the people I know personally who have been:
1) Two pre-teen girls, by their fathers.
2) One thirteen year old girl, by her stepfather.
3) One pre-teen boy, by a classmate.
4) One compliant six year old girl, by someone who lured her away from where she was playing in the front yard. Her six year old friend, who thought for herself, got help from adults who called the police. (The girl came home again about 45 minutes later. Something happened, but I don’t know exactly what.)
5) One seven year old girl, by an intellectually handicapped neighbour. It didn’t get any further than talking about panties before she made her excuses and left, but the girl’s father was a boxer and was able to make it very clear to the neighbour that he was not to talk to the girl again.
6) A two year old boy, by his uncle. Who was supposed to be babysitting him, but who raped and murdered him instead.
7) A ten year old girl, by her grandfather. (All the adults in the family knew that granddad was a pedophile. The girl was simply instructed never to visit granddad alone. One day she did anyway. When her injuries were discovered, her mother punished her severely for disobedience.)
8) A nine year old boy, by his father.
9) A twelve year old boy, by his older brother. (The boy didn’t think it was assault, though, he liked it. So he assumed that when he and his brother had sex with their younger sister that she liked it too. Forty years later she’s still complaining that she didn’t.)

I don’t know anyone who was assaulted by a friend’s father.

This is pretty consistent with the data internationally: if you want to protect your children from assault, sexual or otherwise, keep them away from their close relatives. Especially their fathers. If you can eliminate the fathers, grandfathers and uncles, you’re pretty much in the clear. Your daughter doesn’t have any older brothers, so that helps a lot too.

This is impractical, clearly. What you can do is teach your child about good touch and bad touch, and respect your child’s desires to stay away from people they get a bad vibe from. Encourage your daughter’s autonomy. While she needs to learn how to display kindness and respect, to treat the world as the wonderful place it is, and to be interested in meeting new and strange people, inculcating obedience to all adults is not the way to go. Keep an open mind and maintain a communicative relationship.

With respect to your question, the pedophiles I have known seem nice and also immature. I have no idea whether or not Michael Jackson himself is a pedophile, but they’ve been kind of a Michael Jackson type. Not flashy, but gentle and immature and happiest with kids.
posted by kika at 6:00 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite] still can't help but think he was a decent guy with a bad bad desire?

I personally think this is the reason pedophilia is causing such problems. Because it's so verboten that someone would have these thoughts, to think them at all is absolutely unforgivable. As a result, someone who does think them doesn't talk about them with anyone else, harbors them inside, and never works through their problems with a healthy person (although, thanks to the Internet, they may meet up with others who share their problem).

There are plenty of creepy nice-guy pedophiles out there, I imagine, but there are also normal guys who just have messed up brains and no one to talk to about them. If they act on their behavior it's not forgivable, but it's at least understandable (again not in the "that's okay" sense but in the "I know why it happened" sense) -- they had a sickness, but no way to talk to someone about curing it.

I personally think that the fact that pedophilia is such a hot-button topic only serves to exacerbate the situation. It needs to become normal again for adults and children to be close -- teachers and childcare providers should be allowed to hug kids, for example -- so that children growing up will have a normal understanding of acceptable physical closeness, and they will grow up to be healthy adults this way.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:02 PM on April 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

I worked in social services for a few years with underage sex offenders. When I say underage, I mean a lot of them were 17 or already 18+ but still in state's custody; and had abused much younger (preteen) kids. A small percentage were nothing short of Micheal Myers. Empty eyes and hearts that make me cringe when I happen to pass one at the mall.

A lot of them, the majority of them, were decent and caring young men. I genuinely liked and trusted them, and many had done horrible things. Good people do bad things and pedophiles are no different. They're just people. Usually people who were molested themselves at a young age, and usually people who never make repeat offenses.

Saraswati is on the money - most abusers are simply opportunistic and will already be close (probably related in some way) to your child.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:08 PM on April 9, 2007

Tim - of course is causes problems for the child. Case in point - I can't remember his name but there was a kid lost up in the cold woods up in the Pacific Northwest. He almost died because rescuers couldn't find him. Why couldn't they find him? He had been instilled with such a deep distrust of strangers that he actively hid from his rescuers. He had repeatedly seen people and ran away from them because they were people he didn't know.
posted by Justinian at 6:10 PM on April 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

I know it's late in the thread, but as a new mother I really have to ask: Are you sure you want to know the answer to this question?

What if the answer is "Yes"? (And the answer is almost "duh!")

Are you going to prevent your child from meeting other people? To live in fear that everyone they meet will molest them?

What will you do when an adult smiles at your child? Will you smile back or will you scowl and draw your child close and whisper warnings to them?

Sorry to be a bit reactionary, but it's downright sad that as an adult male in the United States that I can't smile at a happy family because the parents think I'm a pedo rather than enjoying the reflected happiness that a young family has.
posted by Ookseer at 6:14 PM on April 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

My uncle molested my cousin and I had always thought he was a nice guy. As disturbed as I still am by it, I still have some pity for him and don't think he is a strictly evil guy.

Also, this is not strictly someone I know, but the documentary "Capturing the Friedmans" is about a father who was a pedophile and also seemed like a genuinely really nice man who loved his family. He remained a sympathetic character for me through the whole movie. Part of my sympathy came from the fact that he (and also one of his sons) was accused and convicted of crimes that I felt he couldn't have actually done, but he did admit to acts of child molestation that happened before the acts for which he was convicted. I realize documentaries are told through the potentially biased lens of their creators. However, this movie did change my personal conception of the "kind of person" someone who has sexually molested children is, so I thought it relevant.
posted by DanielDManiel at 6:20 PM on April 9, 2007

Micheal Jackson?

Seriously though. I would imagine most pedophiles come across as warm, loving people. They just love, you know, too much. A lot of them really belive that they are in a consentual relationship with children. That's why it's called the man boy love association, and not the man boy rape association. They're whole MO is to "love children"

That said, your kid is much more likely to be struck by lightning then be molested by a stranger. Being terrified of kiddy diddlers as a parent would lead to rearing a pretty fucked up child, just as being molested would.

I saw an interview with a kid who had been coerced into saying someone molested him when he was very small, during the hysteria of the 1980s. He was now totally fucked up, and couldn't even stand to touch his own children at all (or let his children touch him) He couldn't even be in the room alone with his daughter for fear of having people think him a pedophile. Fucked 'em up right proper. If you put too much fear and paranoia into your child, it will mess them up just as if you had molested them yourself.

Make sure you kid has street smarts, but don't make him or her super paranoid about everyone and everything.
posted by delmoi at 6:46 PM on April 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

There was an essay in The Believer awhile back about those "rehab programs" for sex criminals. It followed a guy who had completely passed the program, moved into a house, and had his house completely destroyed by everyone in the neighborhood. It definitely made me feel bad for him.

I'll try to find a link to the story later.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:28 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

You're really asking two different questions: can a child predator be a nice guy, and can a guy who's attracted to children be a nice guy.

I have no experience with people who act out their sexual desires with children, but it seems to me that the attraction itself falls well within the normal human range (assuming we're talking about pubescent and post-pubescent children).

After all, pubescence is when many people first experience sexual desire. What is more natural than to be attracted to one's peers? And why wouldn't some otherwise normal, decent people retain that attraction as adults?

One of my early partners confided in me that he was attracted to girls around 13 to 16. When I got over my initial shock, I realized that his preference was no more odd than any other sexual fantasy. It didn't mean he was a monster or that he would ever harm a child (he would never do so).

Our culture treats pedophilia like it's the one kink that's completely beyond the pale, when in fact it has been the norm in many other times and cultures, where virtually everyone married before today's "age of consent." I believe this is rooted in hypocrisy and unconscious guilt about the way our culture sexually exploits, abuses, and neglects young people.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2007

kika touched on this, but I think that the best thing you can do to protect your child from abuse of all kinds is teaching her to think for herself, to be independent and self-aware, and to understand that adults can do bad things. Also, to instill in her a sense of your love, and that she can tell you about anything that is troubling to her. And trust her if she says she doesn't like someone.

That's not answering your original question, but maybe the next question you should be asking.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2007

Pedophilia is a sexual taste/preference, just like being gay or being straight, or being bisexual. As with any representative group of people, there will be "nice people" and "bad people."
posted by fvox13 at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2007

I was a victim of sexual abuse when I was six. It was my father's friend. My dad was in the next room when he did it. To a certain extent, shielding your child from unsupervised contact with strange adult males does cut the risk considerably, but pedophiles are extremely opportunistic, and they will wait until your child is alone even for ten minutes to strike. The sad truth is that had I not been taught to be somewhat overly compliant with adults, I might have cried for my dad and I would have been saved. Teach your child that some grown-ups can do bad things, and that they should always come to you if they're not sure about something, and that will probably help.

As for the niceness question, of course the pedophile will present as nice, ie. good manners, personable, trustworthy in most other matters. That's how they get people to trust them with their children. But someone who victimizes children is "not nice" by definition in my opinion. So yes they can appear nice, but no they actually aren't. And you have no way of seeing through their nice act. They are usually extremely skilled at what they do.
posted by katyggls at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2007

Here's an interesting blog entry I came across last week that may provide some illustration to this thread:
posted by rhizome at 8:05 PM on April 9, 2007

I have to double post sorry. I think some people in this thread are confusing pedophilia (engaging in sexual activity with pre-pubescent children under the age of 13) and just having sex with someone who's more or less sexually mature but legally underage. There's a huge difference. Pedophiles who molest children are sick, and their desires are abnormal, not to be compared to being gay (as fvox13 suggests), or even being sexually attracted to a 16 year old. While legally underage, a 16 year old is physically and sexually mature and can even give somewhat limited consent psychologically, despite what statutory rape laws suggest.

At any rate, I think the original poster is more fearful about her child being victimized by a true pedophile, not that her 15-17 year old daughter might someday have sex with an older man. Correct me if I'm wrong, esereth.
posted by katyggls at 8:11 PM on April 9, 2007

Through my work in prisons I know inmates who fit the description. One I can think of is developmentally disabled, seems sweet and pathetic, expresses great remorse for his crime. The other person who comes to mind is very nice, intelligent, articulate, educated, down to earth, and (I know this sounds bizarre but) seemingly principled. This second person has spent much effort trying to get specialized treatment in prison for his pedophilia. As some of the above posters have noted, it is difficult in this day and age for people to come forward and get help (imagine being a principled person with this drive/desire -- how would you get help?).

In both cases the inmates molested family members. In the second case, the person was himself molested by a family member. Neither person seems to me to be conniving or without remorse/human feelings. (There are other inmates I meet who do seem to be conniving.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:16 PM on April 9, 2007


OmieWise's link is interesting and enlightening. It helped me see another way to answer this question.

I was in a band with a guy who later was convicted and went to prison for child molestation. He would be classed with the second type (regressed) from the link, and the particulars mentioned in the link describe him and his probable motives exactly.

This question you ask was troublesome for many of his friends, because during the court process he actually asked people who knew him to write letters of character reference to be considered by the judge at one stage. We all had to decide whether or not we would help his case or remain silent.

In private, All of us had to admit that our dealings with him had been universally wonderful. The guy was generous with his time and knowledge, funny, musically talented, friendly, had lived in his town a long time, knew everybody, came from a really nice family who also knew everybody, had a functioning career and several different, functional hobbies and gigs. He just...hooked up with teenagers. Young ones. More than one, apparently, but we only ever learned about it because one of them objected and her parents pressed charges.

So we all had to go through the soul search: do we write the character reference? If you've only known the guy to be really great, how can you say no?But if you believe that he probably did what the charges say, how can you say he's a fine guy? There were a few late-night debates over diner tables and in living rooms.

Ultimately, I could not do it. I believed the charges were likely to be true and so was unwilling to do anything to assist his defense. Thye whole thing was terribly sad all around. It was ugly and sad that he was compelled to do this, ugly and sad what it did to his family, and ugly and sad what he did to the girl (though she was not physically injured).

But it was also disturbing to watch others in the circle who knew him come to different decisions - because even though he probably did it, they argued, the girl was 'fourteen going on 30' and 'knew what she was doing' and 'he just lost track of what was happening' and other such justification. It illustrated to me that perhaps many people are not as far from the pedophile line as I would like to think.

But up until this point, absolutely, you'd never think such a thing would happen. He was a nice guy. And his 'nice' characterists definitely coexisted with his frustrated sexual needs. Since I wasn't dealing with those needs, I saw only the nice guy. The person who did have to deal with the needs saw him at less nice moments, to be sure. But he was the same person. His family still loves him and he still has some of the same friends. I couldn't really get past it, so I just never contacted him again after he was convicted.
posted by Miko at 9:03 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think some people in this thread are confusing pedophilia (engaging in sexual activity with pre-pubescent children under the age of 13)....

The original poster did not state explicitly whether she meant child molesters, or just people who are attracted to children. She also didn't define what age she meant by "child."

According to Wikipedia, the word in its technical sense refers to those attracted to pre- or peripubescent children. The other meanings (child molesters, and those attracted to adolescents) are described as colloquial.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2007

Fine if mom and a gaggle of kids are there.

Good thing moms never hurt kids.

You cannot protect your child 100% from harm. Even if you try to do that, you will likely cause more harm than you have prevented. There are many things that most parents would let their child do without a second thought (swimming, riding in a car, eating preservatives) that are far more likely to do them harm than spending time with their friends' Dads.

I'm sorry for the MeFites who were abused, and I appreciate the almost overwhelming fear and anxiety that comes with being a new parent (I was one), but it is not worth it to change your life or your child's life to try and prevent rare and unpredictable disasters.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:16 PM on April 9, 2007

Definitely. I know at least two, both of whom I met online.

The first guy I found because of an activity we had in common; I was a member of a small online group that he joined. He seemed a little unusual, but nothing worse than a little awkward and not always comfortable in social situations. I figured he was a typical shy guy who spent most of his time on the internet and probably lived with his parents despite being in his 30s. Plenty of those guys are basically decent, although shy and messed up in some ways, and we were only interacting online as part of the group so I didn't really care.

The group was pretty tight-knit, and as he spent more time with us, he began to share more. He had been involved with young boys (7-9), was convicted, and had a lot of legal restrictions on his life as a result. He had a lot of grandiose, unworkable plans to create a better situation for himself. I pitied him for his total cluelessness, but I felt worse for his victims. He tried to get closer to me, but I didn't reciprocate.

I think he has realized that society is going to make him even sorrier if he doesn't knock it off, and I think he wouldn't do it to other boys if he had the opportunity -- but only out of fear of punishment. He would still be happy to embark on a rant based on a half-understood, bastardized version of Socrates' argument in Plato's Symposium.

The other guy I found because we both read the same blog and frequently ran into each other in the comments section. Everything he wrote sounded great to me -- he was obviously smart, he made reference to some obscure things I also liked, he was a good writer, he had a wicked sense of humor, and in general he sounded like a guy I'd really like. A little e-flirting later, he allowed me to read the friends-only entries of his blog.

His public entries were normal, even attractive, although it was clear he wasn't going through a great time in his life. His private entries explained why: They detailed his recent release from jail and the end of his probation. He was imprisoned after the parents of his "girlfriend" discovered their relationship. As I understand it, she didn't make much of a difference in their decision to prosecute -- because they ignored her protests or because she agreed with them I don't know. I think she was around 13, but the myspacey pictures of her that he posted made her look like she was younger and pre-pubertal (only a guess). His private entries also demonstrated an apparent obsession with her -- "love of my life"-type stuff.

I tend to be a little more accepting of borderline situations, since I was involved in one when I was younger (although that guy was nice, I wouldn't consider him a pedophile at all, which is why I'm not discussing him here). But this crossed a few lines for me -- not just his obsession, but also her young apparent age, his apparent appreciation of that, and his unwillingness to stop trying to contact her years later. I didn't comment on his entries, and eventually he stopped letting me see them. Although we aren't directly in touch anymore, I just realized that I still value his opinion in some ways -- for example, I hope he doesn't find this (although not enough to prevent me from posting).

TL;DR: The first guy was a little socially awkward; in person, although he seemed fine, you probably wouldn't get to know him well enough to trust him alone with your kid. The second guy presented as a totally nice, interesting, funny guy -- quirky, but in ways that appealed to me and that most of MeFi would probably also like. It was only once he trusted me enough to reveal the rest of his life that I had any clue. If you were acquainted with him, and you had a reason to leave your twelve-year-old daughter with him while you ran to the store, you wouldn't think twice about it.

I'm not saying this is enough reason to be afraid of your kids' safety 24/7 or to be terrified of all strangers or anything. But you wanted personal anecdotes, and those are mine.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:25 PM on April 9, 2007

Afroblanco quoted this, and I think it bears repeating:
The reality is that only 10 percent of child molesters are strangers to those they abuse (6 percent for children under 6 years old). About 30 to 40 percent are family friends or trusted adults. Typical child sex abusers -- 50 to 60 percent -- are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and brothers. (The percentage of women who sexually abuse children is low.)
I don't have statistics at hand, but I've also read that in a statistically significant number of such cases the perp himself was a victim of some sort of abuse as a child. Is there a history of abuse in your family? Make it your business to find out. Trust, but verify (as the saying goes).

I have a nine-month old son, and he's currently in an in-home daycare situation. Trust me that I understand what you're thinking about right now. While they're so tiny and helpless its very hard to think of anything except "protect, protect, protect, protect." But, ultimately, as your daughter gets older, you can choose to raise a strong daughter who understands the difference between loving touches and hurting touches, who understands that she needs to Tell An Adult when something seems weird, or you can raise a daughter who is fearful of the world, of strangers, of men. Talk to her every day about what has happened as part of her day. Notice the experience of many of the posters here: a parent was nearby, in the next room, only away for a second. In the end, you cannot -- you physically cannot -- be with your child every second of every day for the next 14 or 16 or 18 years.

Being a mom is the hardest thing in the world. There is so much you can't control. You'll do alright, and your daughter will to.
posted by anastasiav at 9:37 PM on April 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

you can choose to raise a strong daughter

I second this wholeheartedly, and it really is at the heart of your question. You'll never be able to protect children from everything in the world; it is a weird place, perhaps a bit weirded for girls on average, but weird for everyone. It is much smarter to put your energies into teaching her how to have good judgement, trust herself, find people to confide in, act confidently, not volunteer for victimhood, and the like than to look for lurkers in the shadows everywhere you go. We are all our own best protections, and girls who get an honest upbringing in which adults teach awareness and believe in girls' abilities are in a good position to handle themselves.
posted by Miko at 9:45 PM on April 9, 2007

Oh, and to answer the question: I belong to a fairly well-known historical recreation group. A man I knew slightly, who had been very active in one of the PA chapters of this group, was, within the past 5-6 years, convicted of molesting a dozen or more children whose parents were part of our organization. He would definitely fall in the "trusted adult" category. What is interesting about the story is that his victims included both boys and girls, and while something clearly happened to some kids, a much larger number were alone with him many times and nothing happened. I'll quote now from the article on the case:
"One ... supporter, Jessica Harton, 18, spent weekends at the farm from ages 12 to 15. She said she cannot imagine [he] is guilty. Harton said she was sexually abused by her father as a child and had to testify in court as an 8-year-old.

"Ben ... proved to me that not all men are bad. He made it clear that it was OK that a man can just hug you and that's all it was," said Harton. "
Don't get me wrong. I totally believe he did it. But clearly it wasn't something where he would molest every child with whom he had an opportunity. Some children attracted him as targets, some did not. Who knows why.

But yeah, Ben was a nice guy. A leader, even.
posted by anastasiav at 9:47 PM on April 9, 2007

What tim_in_oz said. I'd bet cash that more harm, collectively, has been done to children by scary 'mr stranger danger' stories, than by all the actual Messrs stranger danger combined.
posted by baylink at 10:07 PM on April 9, 2007

Yes, unfortunately, I've known pedophiles who seemed nice, very nice, respected citizens: a family pediatrician, a well-known photographer who focused on photographing young people, including very young children (naked if possible), an elderly artist whose art is full of child-like whimsy, a woman too, who gives to charities to benefit abused children, a powerful CEO who gave tons of money to churches and universities.

Pedophiles wear masks, it's part and parcel of their sickness, to mask their perversion around protective adults, so as to strategise getting near children. there are also a lot of women, who are fixated on keeping their man and cannot bear the idea that the guy they're so crazy about could or would do such a thing to their child. Sadly, many children haven't been believed by their mother when they reported they had been abused by their mother's boyfriend or husband,

The children of pedophiles, who had not been molested, would swear their dad was an angel and couldn't possibly have done such an outrageous thing as committing sexual abuse on a child.

My immediate response in reading your question is to wonder if somebody who appears nice in your life is not safe for your child.

Women, including mothers, can also be pedophiles.

There's a proverb about two guys walking barefoot across a stony field and one guy says, "Wouldn't it be nice the Earth were covered with leather and smooth so we didn't have to feel the stones on our skin?" And the other guy says, "You don't have to try and make the whole Earth comfortable, all you have to do is cover your own feet with a pair of shoes."

The world isn't safe. No way to cover all the jagged edges of life. What you can do is to teach your child in gentle ways how to protect him or herself: setting healthy boundaries, knowing what's okay and not okay; feeling okay to communicate uncomfortable things to and with you; and that you can be a steady person, clear-headed about difficult stuff.

It may be helpful to read up on setting boundaries as an adult, so that you can better communicate about teaching your child how to set healthy bondaries. If you smother your child by being over-protective, or you typically over-react, it's a sure thing your kid will rebel and not tell you when something is scary because you'll get all bent out of shape and agitated. It seems to me that being a parent requires a lot of well thought out balance...over many years.

A little info on the roots of pedophilia.
posted by nickyskye at 10:09 PM on April 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't have the energy to read all the previous answers, so this may very well be duplicative. However, after doing child protection work for 15 years or so, I can say that most pedophiles are able to present as nice guys-after all, you don't get access to children by being creepy and scary. Some will set off my radar immediately-maybe they are too nice, sickly sweet, ingratiating (always a red flag). Some are controlling or too "touchy feely" or immature. A lot of 'em I'd never guess. Lots of them are hard working, helpful folks. Lots of them do jobs that let them be around children, which make them seem like nicer people-teachers and swim instructors and church youth group leaders. Most of them think of THEMSELVES as really nice people, too. They can say with great passion that sex offenders should be shot or castrated-sometimes as a blind, but sometimes they really mean it, as they often think of themselves and what they do as completely different than those other criminal freaks.

Best advice I've heard? Be suspicious of anyone who is more interested in spending time with your children than you are.

But man, after all this talk, I do want to say don't be paranoid. You read too much of this and you'll want to shut yourself and your kids in a padded room forever. I'm reasonably cautious, but not overly so. My ten year old walks home from school. There's not much to be served by locking kids up-and, face it, most sex offenders are members of your family anyway.
posted by purenitrous at 10:28 PM on April 9, 2007

Also, a bit of unsolicited commentary on the underlying fear:
1. It might help you to avoid TV programs (even the news) that hype child abuse stories. Yes, it happens, but you can't let yourself be paralyzed and haunted by this possibility -- and right now you're extra vulnerable to those paralyzing thoughts. (There was a recent question about this from another new parent.) Similarly, don't dwell on the anecdotes in this thread.

2. You're going to raise a child who trusts her own judgment about people and situations, and who can trust you to act on what she tells you. This is absolutely the best precaution you can take.

Even so, sometimes bad things will happen to her, no matter how careful you are. (True of riding a bicycle, riding in a car, eating fresh foods, going for a hike in the woods, etc.) Of course, it makes sense to be careful -- using your own good judgment that has come from life experience. But also you're going to teach her how, and help her, to deal with bad things when they happen.

Having bad things happen is not the end of the story. I know a number of people who were abused as children, and they are productive, active, interesting, emotionally-whole adults. Yes, they had bad things happen to them as kids; yes, they have some effects from those things. But there are a lot of bad things that can happen when you are a child, many of them not under your parents' control. What makes a difference to your later life is how your family helps you through it, which is under your parents' control.

So be cautious, but not so cautious that you deprive your daughter of the chance to meet people, explore the world a bit on her own, learn to have good judgment. It's overwhelmingly likely that she will grow up okay. :)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:52 PM on April 9, 2007

Steven C. Den Beste, you posted that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile. That is wholly inaccurate and unfairly damaging. While an unmarried older man displaying a strong fondness for children, (in this case, Alice Liddell) might be untoward in this time, it was not deviant in the Victorian era.

It is distressing that a man who cannot defend himself should be accused posthumously of something that in all essence contradicts his life's work and passion.
posted by loquat at 11:53 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Interesting story about an adult man dealing with being raped as a child. from here
posted by afu at 12:51 AM on April 10, 2007

I have a cousin who is 14 years older than me. I absolutely adored him when I was small (we lived in the same neighborhood when I was in kindergarten through fourth grade), he often picked me up from school, took me to the beach, bought me all kinds of toys and even a puppy and he was funny and handsome and all my friends loved him because he treated us as equals and not as little kids. All of my memories of him are happy. He never once acted inappropriately towards me or made me feel uncomfortable, and I say that as the child of a school guidance counselor who was hyper-aware of the dangers of molestation. My entire family was shocked when, two years ago, he was accused (and later convicted) of molesting his stepdaughter for years, beginning when she was 6 and culminating when she was 13. So, yes, paedophiles can be extremely nice. They can be people you love and respect and trust completely, and they aren't necessarily going to molest every child they're left alone with.

Now, having said that, it makes me so sad to hear about the posters in this thread who are "protecting" their children with this paranoid fear of men. I think that, in the long run, it's going to be really harmful and it's likely to affect their relationships. Women abuse, too, and as everyone here has said, it's likely to be the person you suspect the least (uncle, brother, cousin, stepfather) and not the dad of the kids down the street. The best thing you can do is to make sure your children know what constitutes inappropriate behaviour . Talk about it enough so that they are comfortable telling you if someone makes them even a little uncomfortable, no matter who it is, and make sure they know that no matter what an abuser says, nothing bad will happen if they tell.

And here's an idea that might not be too popular - I think that a lot of the after-effects of non-violent sexual abuse of children are seriously exacerbated by acting like it's the end of the world and the most horrible thing that can happen, ever, to anyone. I was molested (not by my cousin, but by another female relative who was babysitting me) once, when I was taking a nap. I woke up in the middle of it, hopped off the sofa, and went out on the front porch and refused to come back inside until my mom came to pick me up. I immediately told her what happened and I felt so proud of myself for telling, just like I was supposed to, and I didn't feel guilty or unhappy until I was exposed to the absolute shit-storm it caused within my family. I should have been protected from the yelling and the accusations between the molestor (my mother's much-younger stepsister) and the rest of the family. It didn't occur to me that I was supposed to be damaged or depressed until about the second week of being constantly asked if I was OK, or if I needed to talk. My mother told all my teachers, as well, and I was treated like an invalid for months. All that hurt a lot more than being fingered by a fat 17 year old social outcast. Sorry to be so crude, but it's the simple truth.
posted by Wroksie at 1:56 AM on April 10, 2007 [6 favorites]

Now, having said that, it makes me so sad to hear about the posters in this thread who are "protecting" their children with this paranoid fear of men. I think that, in the long run, it's going to be really harmful and it's likely to affect their relationships. Women abuse, too, and as everyone here has said, it's likely to be the person you suspect the least (uncle, brother, cousin, stepfather) and not the dad of the kids down the street. The best thing you can do is to make sure your children know what constitutes inappropriate behaviour . Talk about it enough so that they are comfortable telling you if someone makes them even a little uncomfortable, no matter who it is, and make sure they know that no matter what an abuser says, nothing bad will happen if they tell.

Exactly. Thank you, Wroksie. I also heart LobsterMitten in this thread.

If anything, instilling in them a paranoid distrust of others will only further disarm them in the face of someone they do wind up trusting. Your child needs a balanced sense of boundaries and autonomy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:10 AM on April 10, 2007

I did a search for sex offenders and was shocked to find that several of them had been my neighbors in my old apartment building. I'd often talk to them in the elevator, or wait with them on the bus stop. They weren't my best friends, but as far as I could tell, they seemed like nice guys.
posted by desjardins at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2007

1. It might help you to avoid TV programs (even the news) that hype child abuse stories

Exactly. At the root of this question is promoting your peace of mind and your child's well-being. Stop watching the tabloid tv that feeds these fears and promotes such hype/tripe. Shows like Dateline seem to serve any purpose beyond promoting fear and ratings (I guess they do a fair job at punishing the guilty, but that's largely besided the point).

Be mindful, be watchful, be vigilant, but don't freak out.
posted by psmealey at 6:48 AM on April 10, 2007

The guy from whom I and several of my friends took guitar lessons for several years was arrested for child molestation about five years after I'd left Omaha for college. It blew my (and all of my friends') mind-- our music-lesson experiences with him over the years were nothing but fantastic (and, just to make it clear, he never did anything remotely skeevy to me or any of my friends; it later turned out that he was into little girls, not teenaged boys). I still have cognitive-dissonance trouble with it, as I can't really deny that he was a major positive influence and role model for me during my teens; and at the same time, he was doing awful things that we didn't know about. None of us were called as character witnesses at his trial, but we all sort of expected to, and went through pretty much what Miko describes.

So I guess my datapoint is that yeah, pedophiles can be decent, and that it's not like they destroy everything they touch. I don't mean that as any sort of defense... I'm just saying it's complicated. Or seems complicated. Or shit, I don't know.
posted by COBRA! at 7:19 AM on April 10, 2007

Just another voice to say, teach your daughter about her wonderful body. Tell her which parts are ok to be touched and which parts are not ok. The best thing for a kid is to be educated and supported. If she knows her body belongs to her, and that no one is allowed to touch these parts except when mommy gives her a bath, and boys have private parts, too, and no one should be touching them except for... and so on. And if anyone touches or asks to be touched, say no and go tell mommy. Mommy will always believe you and protect you, no matter what.

And don't watch those horrific shows all over tv. No CSI Special Victims or Dateline or anything. Make a conscious decision to turn the channel to protect your own mind.
posted by orangemiles at 7:57 AM on April 10, 2007

ach, more typos. I meant boundaries, not bonderies, yikes, and nice if the Earth were covered with leather.
posted by nickyskye at 8:28 AM on April 10, 2007

One has been my friend for several years- one of the sweetest guys I know, and happily married. He's also one of my favourite people. He doesn't intend to pursue his lines of interests, but he's a pedophile nonetheless.

Be careful, they can be nice guys too- they can be in your circle of friends without you knowing. I didn't know the aforementioned was one until he confessed it to me one night a couple of years after I'd known him.
posted by Glitter Ninja at 8:40 AM on April 10, 2007

For the record, since I am a teenage female, he has never been skeevy towards me- it was made clear he liked them younger.
posted by Glitter Ninja at 8:42 AM on April 10, 2007

I'm surprised that nobody has said this so directly.

Do Not send your daughter mixed messages. She will be taught by a lot of people to "avoid strangers" and then, often by the same people, to be nice and polite and shake hands with the "nice policeman." This is counterproductive.

Teach your daughter that it is ok to not have conversations with people that make her feel strange. If there is every an adult that she doesn't want to be alone with, go out of your way to make that work. Even if it means you will be missing a date or an important speech or whatever. Don't wait for her to tell you that something bad has already happened. Kids have pretty accurate readings of people, if they don't want to be with someone it might not be because they want to be difficult and ruin your night.
posted by bilabial at 9:10 AM on April 10, 2007

My former cello teacher turned out to be a pedophile. He never once acted inappropriately towards me or any of the students I knew - he was accused by his foster children much later.

Although it is a despicable act, pedophilia isn't necessary equivalent to forcible molestation - it usually involves the pedophile convincing the minor that what he wants to do with them is acceptable, something the minor often doesn't realize is wrong until much later. The BEST protection from pedophiles is to teach your kids about inappropriate adult behavior.

You actually probably know people with hidden pedophile tendencies - but they're probably about as likely to physically force themselves on your kids as your male acquaintances are likely to rape you. For the majority of people (pedophiles or not), once they see their advances are not getting anywhere, they will move on - wanting sex doesn't mean you will resort to violence to get it.

Teach your daughter well and stay abreast of what's going in her life, but don't obsess about it. An overprotective parent will almost certainly negatively impact a child's experiences, whereas the chances of a pedophile actually assaulting a well-informed child are slim.
posted by chundo at 10:31 AM on April 10, 2007

One of my religion teachers in high school. Very nice guy, taught at the school for at least 15 years. No evidence that he ever did anything inappropriate at school. He went to prison for molesting a boy in his apartment complex. Couldn't handle the shame getting out of prison and killed himself.
posted by ontic at 11:12 AM on April 10, 2007

Big second to what bilabial said.

This Ask Moxie post talks a lot about that - be sure to read the comments. Many parents basically "force" their children into hugging and/or kissing Grandpa, Uncles, Cousins, etc, sometimes against the child's will, so what the child learns is that "Uncle John is entitled to touch me in this way I don't like". Quoting from the comments in that post now:
"I was taught that family was entitled to make me feel bad because it made them feel good. So I did not tell my mom when my great uncle (who was permitted to pick me up and carry me about even though is petrified me) raped me. He was entitled. I could not expect to be defended from him. I was seven, and he'd been allowed to kiss/hug/pick-me-up since I was a baby. I'd learned the rules." -- hedra 12/12/06
posted by anastasiav at 1:29 PM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Two out of every three children in India are physically abused [...] 53% of the surveyed children reported one or more forms of sexual abuse."

And a majority of Japanese schoolgirls get sexually molested in public:

Groping of teen-age girls on crowded subways is very common in Japan -- 69 percent of high-school girls said in a recent poll that they had been abused in that way

This reflects the comment over on MeTa, that if the statistics are true that between 1/4 and 1/2 of American children are sexually abused - most by their relatives and caretakers - then "you might as well treat it like chicken pox and get it over with"!

Getting sexually abused is apparently just one of those normal human inconveniences your child will probably have to deal with one day like getting a cast or stung by a bee.
posted by dgaicun at 2:09 PM on April 10, 2007

Getting sexually abused is apparently just one of those normal human inconveniences your child will probably have to deal with one day like getting a cast or stung by a bee.

Well, we all have to die sooner or later, why don't you just off yourself now and get it over and done with? Seriously, dgaicun, you apparently don't have the capacity to think clearly. There is nothing normal about a child being sexual abused. A high statistic doesn't make something normal.

"...if i were seeing this patient without any history available or without getting the history from him, i would think that we're dealing with a very well adjusted young man who had initiative, intelligence, and who was free of any psychiatric illness."

Psychiatrist discussing Edmund Emil Kemper, serial killer.
posted by nickyskye at 4:35 PM on April 15, 2007

A high statistic doesn't make something normal.

Of course it does. By definition. 'Standard', 'average', 'common', 'usual', these are all synonyms describing a frequency. A high statistic doesn't make something good or desirable but it does state something is normal (that is a typical experience for the average person) for a place and a time. Many people say premarital sex is a very evil thing, but 95% of the population does it. Therefore it is normal, Very Evil Thing or not. That's a simple fact.

Anyways I was kidding about 'getting it over with', and so was the quoted comment. (this is analogous to the old saw about avoiding airplane terrorism by just wearing a bomb yourself on the plane, because what are the odds of two bombs on the same plane!) But the kidding has a point. There is a lot of child sexual abuse in the world, and the grand bulk of it is done by the people the child and the parents should trust and need to trust. (often by the parents themselves) It is a sad reality. Normal people are quite disgusting and defective, and we all suffer for this, because we all need to rely on normal people.

Villifying strangers (always the same geeks and low status unlovables that get blamed no matter what goes wrong) won't help things, and that is the consensus on this thread.
posted by dgaicun at 11:22 PM on April 15, 2007

dgaicun , from the by definition link you chose it says: "conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural."

The definition of standard: "something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model. "

Sexual abuse of children is not approved of in the West. Frankly, if you don't know that sexual abuse of a child is not normal, really it's a time waste trying to discuss this with you. I presume from your profile page that you're simply being a troll by saying something like that. And the fact that somebody has labelled you "the incest guy" makes your opinion, imo, all the more weird and less credible.

Sexual abuse of children is not conforming to the standard. It may be frequent, so is AIDS in Africa. That doesn't make AIDS normal. The Bubonic Plague was common in the Middle Ages, didn't make it normal. The Inquisition lasted hundreds of years, that didn't make it normals. Millions of Jews were killed in the holocaust over years, didn't make it normal. So frequency, duration and quantity do not, necessarily, make something normal.
posted by nickyskye at 7:19 AM on April 16, 2007

Mod note: some user-on-user argument deleted; take it elsewhere
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:18 PM on April 17, 2007

It's a really queer question, no pun intended. It is my personal belief that pedophiles are as common as homosexuals or left-handed people

Pedophile itself Westernization of a larger range of people with attractions to specific age groups, elsewhere such other -philes of particular age groups are given their own specific moniker, ephebophiles for instance) that never appears in Western media because it's easier just to get a rope and hang larger groups for aspects about themselves they can't really help.

The question therefore that you're asking is, "Can left-handed people seem like nice people?" ("--before they go turning our nation's youth into people who write with their left hand like some agenda-driven psychos? WE MUST PROTECT THE CHILDREN !!11!1!!eleven!1")

The truth is that there are loads of pedophiles everywhere, at every turn that you really have no clue about it, because frankly, with the witch-hunt currently going on these days, who's just going to say it? Plus, there's the fact that just because one has the temptation for something doesn't mean that person will act upon it. I am tempted to speed but on certain roads I know I'll get a ticket if I do. You must realize that many recognize the penalty is just to high to justify exploring their very real temptation, no never make any mention of it.

Many "future" homosexuals today aren't even positive themselves that they are -- just think of how many people who have a suspicion they have a youth-attraction and don't fully realize it yet, who are currently in the public school system already. It's pretty tough even learning who you yourself are, without having to change jobs just to avoid someone you may never even act upon, much less tell anyone about it for fear of being socially excluded or dismissed for even suggesting it.
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:28 AM on May 12, 2007

>"That is their game. They always come across as 'nice guys'"

Actually, sometimes they come across as 'nice ladies'.

Yes, I know this is statistically less likely, but for people who have been on the receiving end of abuse the probability is 100%, not the lower number that applies to the general possibility of being abused. Statistics mean fuck-all when it's actually already happened to you.

And for the OP: you mention that lurid sensationalism on the telly is fueling your concerns... well, that's what it is for. They aren't there to inform or educate you, they are there to get you hyperconcerned about the issue so you continue to turn in to their shows and they make all of those advertising bucks.

The issue isn't "can someone be more dangerous than they appear", because the obvious answer is "yes". Almost every time someone does something horrible their neighbors say "s/he always seemed like a nice person". So worrying about whether this person or that person is or is not a threat is useless. What you *can* do is care for your daughter, inform her about what is right and acceptable versus what is wrong and unacceptable, and maintain open and honest communications with her as she grows up so that if any concerns do pop up you can act on them before anyone is harmed.

But make sure that the positive lessons you teach your daughter outweigh the warnings and fear, or you run the risk of making her paranoid and isolated because she's afraid of everyone around her.
posted by foobario at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2007

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