August 28, 2011

Beware: Predators Are EVERYWHERE!

You go about your day the same old usual way: your commute, your chores, your exercise, your errands and everything else in between. All the people you meet from day to day that cross your path - you would have no reason to suspect them of anything. Usually when you meet someone new, you give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they aren't a serial killer and are genuinely a nice person, right?!

That's all well and good but BEWARE: sexual predators are everywhere! When you first meet them, they will probably seem pretty normal, just like everyone else. As you get to know them, they begin to win your trust. After that, they begin to slowly, methodically cross certain boundaries to see how you will react. Then they will strike and leave you wondering, "How did this happen?" School teachers, clergy, boy scout leaders, and family members and others comprise this group of heinous criminals! Most of the time the offender is someone you know and trust, not a stranger!

It happened to me. And it happens to hundreds of thousands and even millions of people everywhere. These predators may live in your town, neighborhood and even next door! If you live in Gwinnett County go to the Sheriff's Sex Offender website, click to "Search for Offenders in Your Area," type in your address and see how many registered offenders there are in your neighborhood. There are 11 within a 1 mile radius of my home and two of those are in my same subdivision! Stay alert to protect yourself and your precious children!

Also, you must be aware that not every abuser has a criminal record. Not every abuser has ever been reported or prosecuted. The current statistics are this: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted by their 18th birthday! AND only 1 in 10 actually report it! So I can deduce that of those 11 registered offenders living in close proximity to my home that 1) they are repeat offenders and/or 2) there are actually MORE than 11 living in close proximity to my home! This raises very unsettling questions . . .

1. How can I possibly know who to watch out for?
2. How can I protect my family?
3. How can I possibly trust anyone?
4. How do I teach and train my children in case something horrible happens?
5. What resources are available for awareness and preparedness?
6. If the worst should happen, where can I go for healing and encouragement?

A1. In many ways, we always watch out for everyone! You give them the benefit of the doubt in Christian love until they begin to "groom" you by testing personal physical boundaries - then you better watch out!

A2. Protect your family by always being aware of where they are, who they are with, how to contact them, locking doors, security systems, etc.

A3. Everyone can earn a healthy level of your trust, but that doesn't mean you must trust them with everything you hold dear to you! I trust my neighbor to pick up their dog doodie in my yard, but I will never trust them to watch my children with me absent, even for 10 minutes!

A4. Teach your children, even while very young, about physical boundaries. Teach them what is appropriate behavior, physical touch and language and teach them what is NOT appropriate! Teach them to say, "NO!" Teach them where they can go that is safe. Teach them what they need to know in an emergency. If you drill this information (phone numbers, addresses, etc.) or put it in song, they will remember and not easily forget.

Voice Today is a non-profit, Christian based, organization for victims, survivors and victors of childhood sexual abuse. They provide resources for all of these things. Voice was started locally, in Marietta, and has been reaching many with it's message of "Breaking the Silence" in order to equip families for prevention.

A6. Report it to the authorities in your jurisdiction immediately! If a sex crime has occurred, do what you can to get an accurate identification of the perpetrator with thorough visual description, DNA and any other information you can give. Some of this info may be on your physical person after an attack so don't bathe and lose valuable evidence before it can be collected. Voice Today was begun to free victims from the shame and guilt of past crimes committed against them. Victims can find healing and victory over these experiences through Christ who is able to heal every infirmity. His blood will never lose its power.

Protect yourselves and your young ones.
Spread the word.
Check out the web links.
If anyone gives you ANY reason to be suspicious, don't trust them!

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