Home >> Protect Your Child >> Identifying a True Pedophile

Identifying a True Pedophile

Sexual Abuse in Background :Although most victims of child sexual abuse do not become offenders, research indicates that many offenders are former victims. 
Limited Social Contact as Teenagers: The pedophile’s sexual preference for children usually begins to manifest itself in early adolescence; therefore, during his teenage years he may have exhibited little sexual interest in people his own age. Since so much teenage socialization revolves around dating, he will often be described as quiet or a loner. This situation will become more apparent as he moves through the teenage years. A 13 year old’s sexual interest in a 12-year-old is harder to identify as problematic. As with several of these indicators, this fact alone means little if anything.
Frequent and Unexpected Moves: When they are identified, pedophiles are frequently “asked” to leave town by someone in authority, by the parent of one of the victims, or by an employer. They were “caught,” but not arrested or convicted. Although getting better, this is still a common way to deal with the problem. The result is that pedophiles frequently show a pattern of living in one place for several years with a good job and then suddenly, and, for no apparent reason, moving and changing jobs. Chances are the investigator will find no official record of what happened. The pedophile will usually have an explanation for the move, but it probably will not reflect the true circumstances. This moving pattern can sometimes be determined from examination of drivers’ license records.
Prior Arrests: In some cases pedophiles have previously been arrested for child molestation or sexual abuse. Certainly such an arrest record is a major indicator particularly if the arrest goes back many years or is repeated. These might include impersonating a law enforcement officer, writing bad checks, violating child-labor laws, trespassing, or other violations that may indicate a need to check further. Any arrest of an adult in the company of a child not his own should be evaluated with suspicion.
Multiple Victims: Molesting numerous child victims of similar characteristics is a strong indicator that the offender is a pedophile. More importantly, if other factors indicate that the offender is a pedophile, then a concerted effort should be made to identify the multiple victims. If you know of only one victim, but have reason to believe the offender is a pedophile, then begin looking for the other victims. For instance if a teacher who is a suspected pedophile molests one child in his class, the chances are high that he has molested or attempted to molest other children in the class as well as children in all the other classes he has taught. This is also true of incest offenders suspected of being pedophiles.
Planned, Repeated, or High-Risk Attempts: Bold and repeated attempts to obtain children or molest them that have been carried out in a cunning and skillful manner (i.e., neighbor beginning seduction in front of child’s parents, teacher molesting children during class in a room full of students) are a strong indication that the offender is a pedophile.
Older than 25, Single, Never Married: By itself this indicator means nothing. It has significance only when combined with several other indicators. Because they have a sexual preference for children, pedophiles often have some degree of difficulty in performing sexually with adults; therefore, they frequently are not married or are married for only brief periods of time. Some pedophiles, though, do enter into marriage for specific reasons, and this is settled with his spouse (of course without revealing the REAL reason)
Lives Alone or With Parents: This indicator is closely related to the above. Again, by itself, it has little meaning. The fact that some man lives alone does not mean he is a pedophile. The fact that an individual, who possesses many of the other traits discussed here and also lives alone or with his parents might be significant.
Limited Dating Relationships: If Not Married- A man who lives alone, has never been married, and does not date adults should arouse suspicion if he possesses other characteristics discussed here.
If Married, “Special” Relationship With Spouse- When they do marry, pedophiles often marry either a strong, domineering woman or a weak, passive woman-child. In any case they will marry a woman who does not have high sexual expectations or needs. A woman married to a pedophile may not realize that her husband is a pedophile, but she does know he has a “problem”—a sexual performance
problem. Because she may blame herself for this problem and because of the private nature of people’s sex lives, most wives will usually not reveal this information.
Excessive Interest in Children: How much interest is excessive?
This is a difficult question. The old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is” may apply here.
This is not proof that someone is a pedophile, but it is a reason to be suspicious. It becomes more significant when this excessive interest is combined with other indicators discussed here. Parents should beware of anyone who wants to be with their children more than they do.
Associates and Circle of Friends are Young. In addition to sexual activity, pedophiles frequently socialize with children and get involved in youth activities. They may hang around schoolyards, arcades, shopping centers—any place that children frequent. Their young “friends” may be male, female, both sexes, very young, or teenagers, all depending on the age and gender preferences of the pedophile.
Limited Peer Relationships:Because they cannot share the most important part of their life, their sexual interest in children, with most adults, pedophiles may have a limited number of close adult friends. Only other pedophiles will validate their sexual behavior. If a suspected pedophile has a close adult friend, the possibility that the friend is also a pedophile must be considered. Today pedophiles can use the Internet to easily find hundreds of individuals who share and support their sexual interest in children.
Age and Gender Preference: Most pedophiles prefer children of a certain sex in a certain age range. In contrast to situational-type child molesters, “true” pedophiles seem to be more likely to prefer boys. The older the age preference of the pedophile, the more exclusive the gender preference. Pedophiles attracted to toddlers are more likely to molest boys and girls indiscriminately. A pedophile attracted to teenagers is more likely to prefer either boys or girls exclusively. The preferred age bracket for the child can also vary. One pedophile might prefer boys 8 to 10, while another might prefer boys 6 to 12. A pedophile’s age preference might not even correspond exactly with the legal definitions of a child or minor. For example a pedophile might prefer sexual partners 13 to 19. How old a child looks and acts is more important than actual chronological age. A 13-year-old child who looks and acts like a 10-year-old child could be a potential victim target for a molester preferring 8 to 10 year olds. For the introverted preferential molester, how old the child looks is more important than how old the child acts. 
Puberty -seems to be an important dividing line for many pedophiles. This is only an age and gender preference, however, and not an exclusive limitation. 
Any individual expressing a strong desire to care for, adopt, or gain access to only a child of a very specific sex and age, other than an infant, should be viewed with significant suspicion.
Refers to Children  as “Clean,” “Pure,” “Innocent,”  or Objects: Pedophiles sometimes have an idealistic view of children that is expressed in their language and writing. Others sometimes refer to children as if they were objects, projects, or possessions. “This kid has low mileage,” and “I’ve been working on this project for six months” are typical comments.
Skilled at Identifying Vulnerable Victims: Some pedophiles can watch a group of children for a brief period of time and then select a potential target. More often than not the selected child turns out to be from a dysfunctional home or the victim of emotional or physical neglect. This skill is developed through practice and experience.
Identifies With Children (Better Than With Adults): Pedophiles usually have the ability to identify with children better than they do with adults—a trait that makes most pedophiles master seducers of children. They especially know how to listen to children. Many pedophiles are described as “pied pipers” who attract children. This ability often helps them become exceptionally good teachers, coaches, or youth volunteers. This skill is particularly useful in befriending children on the Internet.
Access to Children: This is one of the most important indicators of a pedophile. The pedophile will almost always have a method of gaining access to children. Other than simply hanging around places children congregate, pedophiles sometimes marry or befriend women simply to gain access to their children. They are more than happy to help with chores around the house and be a father figure or babysitter for the children.  Pedophiles are frequently the “nice guys” in the neighborhood who like to entertain the children after school or take them on day or weekend trips. Also a pedophile may seek employment where he will be in contact with children (e.g., teacher, camp counselor, babysitter, school-bus driver) or where he can eventually specialize in dealing with children (e.g., physician, dentist, clergy member, photographer, social worker, law-enforcement officer). The pedophile, with or without a spouse, may adopt children or become a foster parent. He may become one or more of many types of volunteers who works directly with children. The pedophile may operate a business that hires adolescents. In one case a pedophile married, had a daughter, and molested her. He was the “nice guy” in the neighborhood who had the neighborhood girls over to his house for parties, at which he molested them. He was a coach for a girls’ softball team, and he molested the players. He was a dentist who specialized in child patients, and he molested them.
Activities With Children, Often Excluding Other Adults: The pedophile is always trying to get children into situations where there are no other adults, other than other pedophiles, present. On a scout hike he might suggest the fathers go into town for a beer. He will “sacrifice” and stay behind with the boys.
Seduces With Attention, Affection, and Gifts:  This is the most common technique used by pedophiles. They literally seduce the children by befriending, talking to, listening to, paying attention to, spending time with, and buying gifts for them. If you understand this courtship process, it should not be difficult to understand why some child victims develop positive feelings for the offender. Many people can understand why an incest victim might not report his or her father, but they cannot understand why a victim not related to the offender does not immediately report molestation. There are many reasons for a victim not immediately reporting molestation (e.g., fear, blackmail, embarrassment, confusion), but the results of the seduction process are often ignored or not understood at all.
Skilled at Manipulating Children: In order to be involved in simultaneous sexual relations with multiple victims, a pedophile must know how to manipulate children. The pedophile uses seduction techniques, competition, peer pressure, child and group psychology, motivation techniques, threats, and blackmail. 
The pedophile must continuously recruit children into and move children out of the ring without his activity being disclosed. Part of the manipulation process is lowering the inhibitions of the children. 
A skilled pedophile that can get children into a situation where they must change clothing or stay with him overnight will almost always succeed in seducing them. Not all pedophiles possess these skills. For example an introverted pedophile typically lacks these abilities.
Hobbies and Interests Appealing to Children: This is another indicator that must be considered for evaluation only in connection with other indicators. Pedophiles might collect toys or dolls, build model planes or boats, or perform as clowns or magicians to attract children. A pedophile interested in older children might have a “hobby” involving alcohol, drugs, or pornography.
Shows Sexually Explicit Material to Children:  Any adult who shows sexually explicit material to children of any age should be viewed with suspicion. This is generally part of the seduction process in order to lower inhibitions.He might send them such material via a computer as part of this process.
Youth-Oriented Decorations in House or Room: Pedophiles attracted to teenage boys might have their homes decorated the way a teenage boy would. This might include items such as toys, games, stereos, and posters of “rock stars.” The homes of some pedophiles have been described as shrines to children or as miniature amusement parks.
Photographing of Children: This includes photographing children fully dressed. One pedophile bragged that he went to rock concerts with 30 or 40 rolls of film in order to photograph young boys. 
After developing the pictures he fantasized about having sex with the boys. Such a pedophile might frequent playgrounds, youth athletic contests, child beauty pageants, or child exercise classes with his camera (i.e., 35mm, “instant,” video, digital).
Extracts from: National Center for missing and exploited Children.