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Why Are There So Many Child Predators?

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The number of sexual predators who prey on children seems to get larger ever year. Why?

man looking at a little girl
Each time we hear of a missing child in the news we're also informed how many registered sex offenders reside in the area. Reports say 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, missing for more than a month from her Florida trailer park, has 44 registered sex offenders living in a five-mile radius her home. Eight-year-old Sandra Cantu, whose little body was found yesterday stuffed in a suitcase, lived among 78 sex offenders in her small hometown of Tracy, California. For mothers of young children -- particularly young girls -- the numbers are all too terrifying.

Why is it sexual predators seem to be more prevalent than ever?

We asked Dr. Charles Sophy, Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, to shed some light. Dr. Sophy says public awareness of sex offenders has increased. With the enactment of Megan's Law, which requires sexual offenders to register with the state, and the ability for concerned citizens to access the information by visiting a website, our society is better educated than the generations before.

These days, however, after serving prison time or after receiving treatment many sexual offenders end up back in our neighborhoods. The problem, says Dr. Sophy, "is they're not always evenly dispersed and communities don't know how to handle that kind of population influx."

The sad fact is there has been in an increase in sexual predators compared to past decades, which Dr. Sophy attributes to the Internet. "It allows them to be sneakier." The ability to be anonymous on the Internet plays into the underpinning of the predator's nature. "It's explorative, it's exploitive. It has allowed people to exercise their impulses without any judgment." Dr. Sophy also attributes the uptick in sexual predators to young girls wearing clothing that's not age appropriate. The sexualizing of girls is "tempting offenders to follow their impulses." That, combined with the stress of the modern family -- when there's often less adult supervision of children -- can be a "recipe for disaster."

Here a five tips from Dr. Sophy on keeping your kids safe:

1) Know your kids
Always be aware of how your children behave and dress -- make sure it's appropriate. Teach them the difference between "good touch" and "bad touch."

2) Know your neighborhood
Be aware of how many registered sexual offenders are in your area and where they live in relation to you and your kids' school.

3) It takes a village
Work as collaborative team with your neighbors to make sure someone is always watching the kids.

4) Have a homebase
Make one house in your neighborhood a "safe house" that kids can go to if there is trouble.

5) Keep an eye out
Be sure to report all suspicious people to police.

Remember April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

For even more discussion, connect with other moms in our community.

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58 comments so far | Post a comment now
cyndi April 8, 2009, 8:58 AM

I have said for years that making our little girls look sexy is a huge mistake. I have three daughters, 6,10 and 15, and we make sure these girls dress their age, including the teenager. No belly shirts, no shorts with her butt hanging out, no mini-skirts. She always looks hip but modest. It takes some work, but we feel it’s well worth the effort. Why would anyone want men lusting after your kids in a way that you can avoid?

Paula April 8, 2009, 9:28 AM

We did not have to dress our little girls in some way or the other, it is proved that sex offenders do not change even after jail. Thinking on the human rights and safety of our children, I think these predators should disappear, kill them if necessary, there is no way they can became better or change. Respecting their human rights means more dead children found. This cannot happen, who’s rights are we standing for?

David April 8, 2009, 10:27 AM

Actually, the number of sex crimes against children is dramatically decreasing. The number of sexual abuse cases substantiated
by child protective service
(CPS) agencies dropped a remarkable 40
percent between 1992 and 2000, from an
estimated 150,000 cases to 89,500 cases. The trend has continued since then.

Note too that not everyone listed on a sex offender registry is a child predator.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93% of children who have been sexually victimized are victimized by family members and acquaintances, not by strangers.

According to a recent study in New York State, 95% of those arrested for sex crimes are first time offenders who thus are not listed on a sex offender registry.

According to New York State, the vast majority of sex offenders do not repeat their crimes. Only 8% of registered sex offenders are arrested for another sex offense within 8 years of the date of their initial registration.

For sex offender registries to be more effective for the general public they need to be trimmed down. Many who are currently listed should not be (the latest example is sexting teens). One offense, non-violent offenders should also be dropped from the public registry after they have lived offense free in the community for 10 years. The sex offender registries are growing so large that it has become impossible to recognize the truly dangerous.

Again, the most important point is to recognize that the vast majority of those who commit sex crimes are not listed on any registry.

More info at

Female Child Predator Awareness April 8, 2009, 10:34 AM

Department of Justice Press Release - April 1, 2009.

PHILADELPHIA — Dorothy Prawdzik, 45, of Colwyn, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison, by United States District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, for her role in the manufacture of child pornography by her boyfriend John Worman, announced United States Attorney Laurie Magid. A jury convicted Prawdzik of all 15 counts against her at trial in September 2008. Worman was convicted of all 56 counts. Worman had installed a video camera in the bathroom wall of a home for the purposes of videotaping children as they used the toilet, undressed, and showered. Prawdzik also participated in the sexual abuse of the children by undressing them for the camera, spreading their legs, and photographing their genitals. She also turned over a 10-month old to Worman and watched as he attempted vaginal sex, sexually abused the infant, and participated in the videotaping of the sexual assault.

The depravity exhibited in this case is beyond comprehension, said Magid. This defendants actions resulted in extraordinary sexual abuse of defenseless children, which may have a profound impact on the victims for years to come. Based on Judge Stengels sentence of 30 years, this defendant will pay the price for engaging in such horrendous crimes.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Delaware County District Attorneys Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Rotella.

Sara Jane April 8, 2009, 10:48 AM

This is a subject that is heart wrenching and stomach churning. For such evil to exist within our own neighborhoods is unimaginable. To hear such depravity makes one fear for more than the well being of our children but for the future of mankind.

John April 8, 2009, 11:05 AM

I am a dad who raised a girl and now has a granddaughter. My gut aches each day thinking about the possibilities. We have to take matters into our own hands to ensure their saftey. The government will not stop the flow of child porn, illegal ‘feel good’ drugs, age inappropriate childwear nor our ability to put these people permanently away. We can no longer HOPE that our children will be safe but we can take up arms against anyone who impedes us from protecting the most valuable people in our lives.
dad & granddad

sarah April 8, 2009, 11:53 AM

Great comments and GREAT article..

Dr. Sophy has it right. Communities need a plan to deal w/these predictors placed in your neighborhood w/o prior approval. Its up to us

Sue April 8, 2009, 1:38 PM

Most sexual predators are actually family members of the child — uncles, parents, grandparents — men and women. If children are made aware that this is not normal, and have someone outside the family that they can tell and a way to get out of the situation, that is good.

If it is not the parents, but a different relative or friend being inappropriate, the parents need to take action to see and face what is happening. Back when I was a kid, parents were not informed and many allowed their kids to be molested by relatives, clergy, teachers, without even really facing that was what was going on. If you read memoirs by the victims, you see this is the case. Sometimes parents or even the kids traded allowing an authority figure being “allowed” to molest the child in exchange for being shown favoritism, feeling special among other kids, being given gifts or special trips or outings, etc. Sometimes the parents were outright trading their kids well-being for their own social or monetary gain. I think this still happens — everything from the poor family being pleased that the priest likes their little boy to the family delivering their child to the pop star in exchange for an afternoon of using the star’s credit cards.

The main thing to remember is that MOST non-family sexual predators are not stranger-danger, but are people that seek out jobs or closeness with kids — teachers, clergy, camp and scout leaders, coaches, sitters, friendly neighbors, etc. Children, even at a young age, need to learn the finesse of being friendly and trusting and at the same time, being wary and questioning and always thinking and watching.

The MOST frightening predators are those that need to sexually violate the child and then kill the child. My personal opinion is that if a person desires sexual activity with a child, they are desiring to harm the child, are out of control mentally and lack impulse control. I actually think that once you do this, you need to be put away forever and never get out.

The Comment above about the man and women creating child pornography — 30 years in prison? It should be life with no parole. Their minds are dark and evil. They never belong back in society.

I once met a man who had narrowly missed being sent on a long prison sentence for sexual activity with a child. Within a few minutes of meeting the man and discussing the topic, he blamed the child. This little preteen girl had “come on” to him, he said. She wanted to have sex, he said. I explained to him that I doubted that was the case, but even if a child does have sexual attraction, it is his duty as an adult not to do it. Children might explore such feelings and actions, but normal adults do not become involved.

It seems to me that we need TWO kinds of education on this — how NOT to become a victim and how NOT to become a predator. Specifically, people need to be taught what are the proper ways to channel their sexual drives and what are not. I have heard this is not even a required part of teacher education, but it ought to be — since a handful of teachers every year are discovered to be molesters.

Sorry this got so long.

shelley April 8, 2009, 2:07 PM

The uptick in sexual predators is also related to the increased availablity of pornography. As young men are exposed to violent/sexual images of women some of them will become desensatized to the offensive nature of it. Some will become addicted. Almost every sexual predator is addicted to pornography. I know many people are very open to pornography and consider it “natural,” but it has some extremely awful and unatural consequences. I think mothers need to moniter internet use and explain to their sons and daughters that they should avoid pornography.

Rachel April 8, 2009, 5:46 PM

How dare Dr. Charles Sophy play the “blame the victim” game. We’ve heard women get blamed for assaults based on what they were wearing, and now this is being extended to little girls? (And what of young boys, who aren’t wearing mini skirts and strappy tops?) Teaching children to be wary of their surroundings and discern possible danger from adults (and older children) is a great thing; just keep in mind that the only person responsible for molestation is the molester. Don’t try to divert attention away from that by blaming the victim.

Jen April 8, 2009, 8:10 PM

I agree with Rachel. What a person is wearing is a non-issue. Infants and 90 year olds are assaulted. These are SICK individuals and the blame rests with them and only them.

Uly April 8, 2009, 9:19 PM

David’s statement, that the rate of sex crimes is decreasing, fits the statistics I’ve been seeing for the past 8 years or so.

Where does your expert get her information from? Can she cite her source that states that rates of sexual predation is increasing, and that it’s doing so primarily *out* of the family (90% of molesters target family members or other children known to them)?

Bec Thomas April 8, 2009, 11:33 PM

It’s an illusion, with the media covering sex offenders more often and most people then ever connected to the net it’s a whole lot easier for us to hear about these types of crimes. The number of sex preditors has not increased, out awareness of them has.

whatamess April 9, 2009, 1:30 AM

Because years ago if a girl lied about her age and had sex with an adult people were reasonable to understand the man was not necessarily a sex offender…Today parents of girls who are out sleeping around instead punish the boy in order to pretend they have good little girls…

No, this doesn’t include a 9 yr old girl molested by an adult man, but many so-called sex offenders in the registry are nothing more than victims of loose girls…

Monica Culp April 9, 2009, 2:47 AM

This is very timely for me because I just found out today that there is a sex offender living across the street from me. He is not the owner of the house but is living with relatives. He is not in the database but I was told by the father of one of our neighbors. His son told him about it. I have a two year old son. I am not overly worried about it because I already watch my child like a hawk but I don’t know how long this guy will be living there. For years, when my son gets old enough to play outside by himself? I have always thought it seems that they are coming out the woodwork. And now, its not just men it women also. Oddly though when I was speaking to a friend about it she makes the remark that girls these days want to have sex. So if its consensual that it should not be called molestation. I told her that regardless if the girl wants to sleep around it is the adults responsibility not to take advantage of a child. She mentioned that she wanted to have sex and did at 12. But just because you wanted to didn’t mean that any man should take advantage of the situation. Adults know that it is wrong and should be held responsible for it. Yes girl dress to sexy. I can’t believe some of the clothes on the sale racks these days. But regardless of how a girl dresses or if she is sexually active no adult has the right to take advantage of her or him.

kate April 10, 2009, 10:39 PM

I was molested by a family member as a young child. This man is still out and about, never having even been arrested after being caught doing the same thing to another child. These stories about dressing your child provocatively as a come on that attracts these types of creeps sickens me. I was four years old for God’s sakes, but I remember the incidents well. I was told when I was older that this man served no jail-time because his family had money and influence. Hopefully he will be judged one day before God for his disgraceful acts!

Sue  April 14, 2009, 2:56 AM

To Monica Culp: If you think the man across the street is a convicted sexual predator and is not registered, call the police and tell them. If the man is supposed to register and has not, that is a crime. You have the right to know. /// I think your best bet to protect your kids from that particular man is to let him know very clearly that you know and that you are watching. /// Teach your kids to listen to their own instincts. If someone or something does not seem right, they need to give themselves permission to react immediately and say no, to refuse to be with someone, to go someplace, to push a hand away.

I had to do push away the hand of a female teacher when I was in 6th grade. I can tell you, she was molesting a lot of girls and getting away with it. I will never forget — 11 years old, and in those days, no one even used the words “sexual molest.” This teacher did this to me.

At the end of the school day, I went to the principal’s (a nun, it was a Catholic school) office and said I needed to talk to the principal. The secretary told me I could not, asked what I wanted to say, said the principal was too busy, etc., and I just repeated I that I would wait as long as it took. And I did.

Finally she came out and I told her just what happened and how I knew the teacher was doing it to other girls. Nothing more was said to me and the teacher was still there for the rest of the year, but she did not seem to be up to her tricks.

I told another girl what happened to me and said I thought it happened to her, too. She at first denied it, but then she said her mother was going to complain to the principal about it.

The next year, the teacher was gone. Nowadays, she would be gone right away and headed to jail. THAT is the big difference between then and now. And it is a darn good difference!!! Sexual molesters are sick, sick people.

Paula April 14, 2009, 1:24 PM

II think this predators should be killed, I do not care if they are family members, or others included in a list. I am a mother and I don’t care if he/she is included or not in a list, they should not exist on earth, predators have a sickness that cannot be healed.
But I think the most important is that laws should be more strict as regards children rights. They are not respected. How can you understand that an 11 or 10 years old girl should marry a 45’ man? It is sick, they need to start from the very beginning, even though they can talk sometimes, that doesn’t mean they do not exist. Children RIGHTS should be RESPECTED. That is what Jesus told us.

steven April 23, 2009, 2:01 PM

‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’? seriously?

chase internet banking October 18, 2010, 12:58 AM

@Markus I get your drift on where you were going there. I often think of my past and use it as a means to analyze where I am and where I want to get to. Where I struggel is balancing it all out. How do you guys balance things out?

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