When one thinks of a young child one thinks of joy, innocence, and being carefree. Too often than not though that innocence is taken from a young child through sexual abuse. Studies have shown over and over again that a child who has been sexually abused carries those scars with them into adulthood, many times affecting adult relationships. When a person thinks of a child molester they see in their minds the dirty old man image. This is not the case in most abuse cases. Usually the child knows the person that is going to harm them. The offender is usually someone that the child and his or her parents trust. The key to abusing a child is to gain their trust so they won’t tell. The offender uses manipulation, and even coercion to get what they what. They will shower the child, and sometimes the parents, with gifts. When trying to protect our children we must be aware of the signs that point to molestation. We must throw away our pre-conceived ideas of what a child molester is and look at the facts. We must educate our children and ourselves so we may begin to put an end to this vicious crime.
What is a pedophile? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-111-R; American Psychiatric Association, 1987) lists the essential features of pedophilia as “ recurrent, intense, sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies, of at least six months duration, involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child” (p.284). The prepubescent child is normally thirteen years old or younger. (Murray, 2000)
One must be careful in using this definition however. The studies that have been done have been with small sample groups and a lot is not known about what makes pedophiles do the things they do. Most psychological research on the personalities of pedophiles consists of only clinical descriptions and case presentations. Bell and Hall represented the clinical approaches to the study of the personalities of pedophiles. They analyzed the dreams of a pedophiles and made suggestions about their characteristics. “ The inference from their case report was that pedophiles have a basic character disorder shown by schizoid and passive traits as well as a severe dread of adult sexuality.”(Bell & Hall 1971).
Cohen, Seghorn, and Calmas (1969) described three types of child molesters derived from their clinical studies. One type had a history of relatively normal functioning and the incident of molestation appears to reflect a reaction to a severe threat to their sense of sexual adequacy. Another type had a history of poor social-sexual functioning and is regarded as primitive and immature in terms of social-sexual skills. The last type they found in their study had offenses involving cruel and vicious assaults on...