Pedophiles, rapists and other sexual offenders are scary. The topic itself makes people recoil with discomfort. Sexual abuse and predatory crimes are simply horrifying. No one wants to think about such things, and it is easier to brush off any thoughts that any person, young or old, may be subject to such abuse. Frankly, “abuse” is probably not a strong enough word for what the victims of sexual offenders experience, especially from the eyes of a young, defenseless child.
Children are especially prone to being sexually abused because children are easily controlled in sexual situations. Unfortunately, there are many people out there with deviant sexual impulses, such as sexual attraction toward children. Author Anna Salter has her Ph.D. in psychology and is renowned for her knowledge and experience in working with sexual predators. The goal of Predators is to inform parents and educators about sexual predators and to provide a line of “defense” to protect themselves and their children. Salter explains that knowledge and a thorough understanding of sexual predators is our best defense against being victimized. Parents and educators have a responsibility to protect their children, and Predators is a wonderful tool to assist in that process.
That said, Predators is not an easy book to read. Salter provides numerous quotes, excerpts from interviews and case studies on various rapists, pedophiles and other sexual predators. However, while such “exposure” is difficult to read, it is eye-opening. Salter explains the motivations of the various types of sexual predators along with how so many easily get away with terrorizing and abusing their victims. Chilling portraits of priests, coaches and family members quickly dispel the notion that sexual predators are only “random lunatics” on the street and that parents should not worry about this issue.
Predators outlines the various types of predators out there – child molesters, rapists, sadist and psychopaths - who all operate differently, and their motivation ranges from rage to sexual attraction. Some predators are like wild animals that will “attack” when opportunity presents itself. However, many predators are more passive and will develop a relationship with a child and manipulate the child and the family by deceiving them as to the predator’s real intentions. Salter does an excellent job of explaining how sexual predators think, how they operate - and how they get away with their actions, time after time.
Importantly, Salter discusses how to detect deception and how to protect our children and ourselves. While there is no “checklist” that can make detection of a sexual predator easy, Salter guides us away from unrealistic “positive illusions” and teaches us to be more aware and more wary to a reasonable extent. She explains how body language and verbal language provide clues as to how a sexual predator may be detected. Signs are subtle, but they can often be observed if one is looking for clues as to a person’s real character and veracity. She explains how many predators will “groom” a child and a family so that the predator can gain unfettered access to the child.
Similarly, Salter cautions against “dismissing” a child’s claims that he or she has been victimized. She discusses various behaviors that parents and educators should look for in a sexually abused child. She suggests ways that a parent can lower the risk of a child being sexually abused. Simple things like not dropping off children alone at sporting events or avoiding “overnight trips” with youth activity leaders or coaches at a young age (unless the parent attends) are invaluable suggestions.
Salter explains while no one can protect their child one hundred percent of the time and that no parent can “guarantee” that their child will not be victimized. Most child molestations cases involve a scenario where the parents has been conned into allowing the sexual offender to spend time alone with their child. Guidance is given on how to maintain a “low-risk status” for your child, in sharp contrast to the “high-risk status” of so many children, despite their well-meaning parents. While Predators is not easy to read, it is eye-opening and is highly recommended to parents, caretakers, educators and anyone who is in a position to protect children.