Child Abusers Are Not Invisible
Pedophilia occurs with disturbing frequency in athletic programs, churches, Boy Scout troops, and youth organizations—places that children congregate, including the homes of trusted family members.
Professor Daniel Pollack, a frequent contributor to ChildLaw, has co-authored a social work textbook called How to Screen Adoptive and Foster Parents: A Workbook for Professionals and Students. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know all about this book which we profiled earlier this year.
A recent op-ed written by the book’s co-author, James Dickerson, highlights this important work:
It is accepted in professional circles that you can help child sex abuse victims with appropriate therapy, but there is little that you can do to help pedophiles. They will offend again and again if they are not incarcerated. Someday there may emerge an effective treatment for them.
Today it does not exist.
The best way to protect children, boys and girls, from abuse is to properly screen individuals who apply for jobs that will require them to work with children, just as you would individuals who apply for foster and adoptive children.
It will not come as a surprise to mental health professionals that Sandusky was married and had adopted six children, along with opening his home to an unknown number of foster children. It is a recognizable pattern.
Although the science does not exist to treat pedophiles, the science does exist to screen them for abusive tendencies. I deal with this in a social work textbook that I co-authored with Professor Daniel Pollack of Yeshiva University, and Dr. Mardi Allen of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, on the subject of screening for abusive tendencies in adoptive and foster parent applicants.
In the book, we point out in a chapter devoted to the subject that pedophiles are naturally attracted to positions that require them to be around children. Of course, most Boy Scout leaders, church youth group leaders, and teachers are not pedophiles, but those categories are a natural draw to pedophiles and that is where you are most likely to find them.
What are some of the clues that should be recognized by social workers, parents, and employment screeners?