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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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