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Is Every Man a Potential Child Predator?

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The new parenting style is ultra paranoid.

man having mugshot photo taken
Momlogic's Momstrosity: The other day, I was at a café that had a small play area with my three-year-old daughter. Also in the play area was a 30-something man and his 18-month-old baby. We got to talking and he told me he also has a 5-year-old daughter. He was very sweet and obviously enamored by his little son. As my daughter played with the well-worn toys, I got up to order her a chocolate milk. As I waited in line, I noticed she and the man were getting along like a house on fire. She was showing him toys and he kept high-fiving her. He was giving her A LOT of attention and she was eating it up. My first thought was how cute and sociable my daughter is ... then I had a pang of fear. Should I be worried this guy is one of those child molesting creeps?

Hold the phone.

Why would I even go there?? Here's a guy at a play area with his baby who told me he has a daughter at home. Should I automatically think he's a liar who has nefarious designs on my child? Have I been brainwashed by the media and its fear-mongering?

I'm not alone.

A friend of mine claims that to her, "every man is a potential predator until proven otherwise." Another says she won't let her kids sit on Santa's lap -- or ANY costumed character, for that matter, because she thinks only a pervert would take those jobs. What if she's right?!

There's a fine line between paranoia and common sense -- and, let's be fair, who has the time to run background checks on every adult our kids come in contact with?

The people I feel most sorry for in all of this are the men -- men who have a genuine, healthy fondness for children and even particularly for little girls (after all, women are allowed to have a preference as to their fave kid gender). Shouldn't a guy be able to play alone with a kid without getting the stink eye from every mom who walks by? Conversely, is every dude wearing a raincoat a flasher ... or worse?

Don't get me wrong. I am a protective mother up to a point. However, if the majority of child molesters are "people we know," then how are we supposed to keep our kids out of the clutches of our friends and neighbors?

53 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lisa June 1, 2009, 5:36 PM

I trust no one with my children. I would rather be paranoid than sorry. I don’t think all men are potential molesters but statiscally most child molesters are male. It a mothers job to protect her children and if that means having negative thoughts about a stranger or family member so what? I have a neighbor who allows a 17 yr old boy to babysit her 2 under 5 daughters- I would not be comfortable with that but as paents we all have to live with the choices we make. I personally choose to be overprotective.

Mother-Thinker June 1, 2009, 7:09 PM

The problem with seeing every man is a potential child predator is that we perpetuate a culture where we expect that it is “women’s work” to care for children. The traditional masculine image is one without children in the picture. We’re still getting used to the idea, culturally, that men can be caregivers too.

I want my daughter growing up seeing men in caregiving roles: as teachers, nannies, nurses, mostly as parents… whether that’s her dad or watching another little kid play with his daddy.

ame i. June 1, 2009, 8:13 PM

Let us remember the mother now awaiting trial for allegedly sexually assaulting and killing the child of a friend.
I was widowed in 2003, met a 44 year old (never married, no children) man in 04, married him in 2007. He raised some eyebrows,for sure. What could be wrong with a man that age, no children, never married??
Nothing at all wrong with him, but almost everything right. He’s walked his (then infant) nephew around the lawn for 3 hours so his mom could sleep. He toted same infant around a large discount store countless times in a front-loading baby carrier so his sister could shop in peace.
My daughters (11 and 9) have more good memories of him than of my late-husband. Our girls run to him for comfort as easily as they run to me.
Normal, healthy hetero males are not all potential predators and normal, healthy males do not have an overwhelming urge to molest little boys.

RachelAZ June 2, 2009, 1:45 AM

Good article, it really makes you think! But for me, I would feel akward if it were a strange woman doing the same thing. So for me, it’s the stranger factor that makes me paranoid, not just the fact that he’s a man.

LuAnn June 2, 2009, 5:53 AM

The problem with seeing every man as a predator, for me, is that does this fear extend to the father of the children? Also, while statistically most predators are male, this is not a set-in-stone law. Having said that, when we lived in a big city in Texas, we would not let the children even go to the door without one of us being there.

MC June 2, 2009, 6:38 AM

How sad that this subject is even worthy of a story. The climate of fear this country has been living under needs to change.
I think we do a complete disservice to our children if we raise them to believe all men are perverts. How will they ever feel comfortable as men themselves or form healthy relationships with men when they are adults?
Thumbs down on this story.

jmcook June 2, 2009, 7:57 AM

A while back at my mom’s group I attended we had a police office come and speak to us about this subject. And someone had asked him about this. And his advice is that a mom/dad but, mostly a mother has a gut instinct and that we should always go by that. Because in the cases of sexual abuse he investigated the mom will always say that she didn’t feel right about leaving the child with that person etc. So, I have always used that advice.

shay June 2, 2009, 8:49 AM

Why is this shocking?The sad statistics show that sadly people are justified in this general distrust.While it’s true that women also can be and are sexual predators, it’s still far more likely to be a male.With around 1 in 3 children becoming a victim of sexual abuse of some form, parents can’t be too careful, even if it leaves them with a bad taste in their mouth for basically having to suspect everyone.

GDon June 2, 2009, 9:15 AM

I think the thing we all miss is teaching our children of their rights… because, let’s face it, we absolutely cannot protect our kids from every single person out there. And being too paranoid just isn’t the answer.

Case in point: my daughter attended the Y after care program in our town for 3 years. The man in charge of the program was a seemingly great guy. Then we find out he had been sexually abusing a few of the girls in his charge for YEARS. Even worse, he had been taking pictures of girls and even setting up cameras in the bathrooms.

This was every parent’s worst nightmare realized. And it really made me think… We were lucky in this instance. Our child was never included in this horrible tragedy. But what could have been done differently for those two victims who were abused for YEARS?

I realized that alerting our children to their rights and what to do if they feel violated… that should be the priority. It’s a talk we should start having with our children the second we are having to leave them alone with anyone.

rugbymom June 2, 2009, 9:26 AM

Great article! It did need to be said. MC, you are so right, it is sad, but I would be lying if some of those thoughts didn’t cross my mind. We are inundated with stories DAILY of this happening! My husband is a stay-at-home Dad and our neighbors constantly trust him with our kids and we are close with our neighbors, but I have told him that our girls are not allowed alone in anyone’s house no matter how well we know them. I try not to distrust, I know so many men who adore children and the majority are well-meaning and would never hurt a child. But how do I know which ones aren’t? We don’t.

What about the males at Daycare now? I reprimanded myself recently for being a little distrustful of a man working at my daycare. Recently a local young man working at a church daycare raped a 4yr old girl. A daycare I looked into when I moved here. A girl close to my daughters age! This could have been anyone’s little girl. At a church. At their daycare! This was a member of that church that people trusted. It would be irresponsible for me to NOT give it a second thought.

mc June 2, 2009, 9:39 AM

I agree with several of the posts: sometimes its stranger paranoia and trust your gut. But one problem is that we see men as either predators or normal healthy males, and we are looking to separate them into those 2 groups. Like ame, a very dear friend of mine remarried in ‘04 to a man who demonstrated how caring he was in every aspect of his life, has always been a stand up guy, loved by everyone, responsible, successful…the perfect guy…her 2 kids have loved him dearly. But this “good guy” blurred the boundaries & ended up “having a consensual relationship” with her 16 yr old daughter & is now behind bars (evaluated & not considered a pedophile). We need to stop assuming that people that can hurt us/our children fit a “predator profile”. Too often, it is someone we know & love intimately. This is why the sex offender registries are a joke. That list just keeps growing because often it’s not a predator in the community that needs to be watched but someone we are close to. Personally, I will try to raise my children to treat everyone fairly (men/women) but that we should always keep our eyes open & trust our gut if something begins to feel suspicious/wrong. This isn’t just about this subject but racial profiling and other similar subjects that require trust in people.

Teresa DeRubeis-Schaefer June 2, 2009, 9:42 AM

As difficult a pill this story is to swallow, I fear there is a lot of validity to it.Unfortunately the sad fact is that most child predators are male, and they are often very nice and very interested in children in order to gain the childs and the parents trust. It never hurts to be too careful when it comes to our children. However, their is an extremelty fine line between being cautious and over the top paranoid. As one poster commented earlier as Mother’s we NEED to trust our gut instincts, they are usually right. With that said I know there are more good decent men that love children innocently than there are perverts (at least I hope so), but I do understand this Mother’s fears that she expressed in her article.

Momeezine June 2, 2009, 9:50 AM

I have to admit I feel worries even leaving my husband with my daughter. My husbands father molested my husbands oldest sister. I would never share my issues with him as it would devestate him as he is a great father, and in my heart I know he would never hurt his children.
I also remember doing a girl scout cookie sale at a local store. A man came up to the table and was buying cookies and talking about how much he likes girl scouts and he gave each girl a dollar and I just was very uneasy with the way he was talking and such. I convinced the girls to donate their dollars to cookies for the military. This could have easily been a very nice man, but he made me very uncomfortabe.

diane June 2, 2009, 10:10 AM

Although I am somewhat paranoid having my grandchildren, who are often with, me around strange men, it is a shame that our society is so ultra-conscious of potential problems. It seems as if the “self-fulfilling prophecy” is clearly at work in America. In other words, if some men are borderline molesters, being psychologically off in the first place, they may think, “Well, they all believe I’ll do something anyway. It is expected of me.” The innocent person who just loves children is not able to show the true delight and caring that young children evoke in so many of us. Will we become a cold, heartless culture where it is inappropriate to show affection or caring for others in fear that we will be labeled a “molester?” Generations ago, elderly people gave quarters or dollars to children to encourage them to keep on being polite and happy children. As a child, I took this to mean that they thought I was a good kid, and none of them bothered me because I was always by my parent or grandparent. As long as a parent or grandparent or responsible adult is nearby, maybe we should watch with a very careful eye, but allow others to show their delight in small children. As a grandparent, I can honestly say that when I am awed by a small child, it is only because he/she reminds me of one of my own children…molesting a child is the farthest thing from my mind when I am enjoying the momentary innocense of the small child. I try to remember too, that older people become childlike. They are not as sexually alert as they may have been in their 20’s or 30’s. It is because a few bad apples have ruined the entire bunch that we need to be overly cautious when our children or grandchildren are around strangers.

teena June 2, 2009, 10:14 AM

I was a victim of molsetation by my mother 2nd husband and I was very distrusting of even my husband when I first brought our daughter home . Now I have learned it isn’t all men but as the one poster said go with your gut. I had to get over my fear I became the neighbour babysitter and the children were always around my husband. which is was never my man it was all in my head because of my previous experience.

Suesbooks June 2, 2009, 10:21 AM

As a mother, you have to do what is best for your child. A mother’s instinct is what I go by. What I do is determined by my feelings. If you have a bad feeling about this person, then be cautious and talk to your child about what is proper touching and improper touching and things like that. Let them know that they come and talk to you about anything. Listen to your children. There are certain signs that you can look for. It is better to be cautious than sorry.

Lori June 2, 2009, 10:21 AM

I agree with going with your instincts, you should always be aware of your surroundings and the people in them, but if something feels wrong it probably is! Even if there was nothing wrong better safe then sorry. Go with your gut, if the situation feels fine, then just pay attention, if the alarm bells are going off, then move away.

Heather June 2, 2009, 10:37 AM

It’s articles like this that cause so much of the fear and paranoia these days. My own mother hates that I let my 11 year old daughter ride her bike two blocks away to the store even though she always has her brother with her and is a very cautious. I remember being young and riding my bike all over town, to parks, stores, friends houses etc…what is happening to this world? I don’t see this as an article about preditors (we had those back then too you know), it’s more about fear and what it’s done to our society. So sad.

mercy June 2, 2009, 10:48 AM

one just have to be careful of those adult males that plays with the kid, and when one is allowing such you should keep a watchful eye on them.

analyst June 2, 2009, 11:06 AM

I’d be more worried about my sons with female teachers.

I have 5 daughters and 2 sons, I’ve never even had the thought of sexual attraction to them, and they are all attractive. But, make sure they can learn about gay sex and all the virtues of that kind of sexual obsession building an identity defined by anatomy!

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