Sex Offenders Safety Tips – Things to Know
Facts About Sex Offenders
- In 2003, there were approximately 455,000 registered sex offenders in the United States.
- Most sex offenders (80- 95%) assault people they know.
- At least half of convicted child molesters report that they also have sexually assaulted an adult.
- Over 80% of convicted adult rapists report that they have molested children.
- Approximately one-third of sex offenders report assaulting both males and females. Research shows that most convicted sex offenders have committed many, many assaults before they are caught.
- Most sex offenders report that they have committed multiple types of sexual assault (sexual assault crimes include exhibitionism, voyeurism, oral sex, vaginal penetration, attempted penetration, fondling, and incest)
- Over two-thirds of offenders who reported committing incest also said they assaulted victims outside the family.
- Some studies of victims have shown less than 30% of sex crimes are reported to law enforcement.
- Young victims who know or are related to the perpetrator are least likely to report the crime to authorities.
Sex Offender Characteristics
- Most offenders commit multiple crimes against multiple types of victims with whom they have varying types of relationships (adults, children, male, female, known and unknown). This behavior is known as “crossover”.
- Sex offenders rarely commit just one type of offense. Many offenders have NO official criminal record or sex crime history of any kind.
- There is no such thing as a “typical” sex offender; however, all tend to be manipulative, deceptive, and secretive. Sex offenders come from all backgrounds, ages, income levels, and professions.
- The majority of offenses (80 – 95%) are committed by someone the victim knows.
- Sexual deviancy often begins in adolescence.
- Sex offenders usually do not commit their crimes impulsively. They usually carefully plan their crimes.
- Approximately 4% of sexual assaults are committed by women.
Adult Behavior that may signal Sexual Interest in Children
Remember: Children are most often molested by someone they know, or whom the parents know. Do you know an adult or child who:
- Refuses to let a child set any of his or her own limits?
- Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want affection?
- Is overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen (e.g. talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body or interferes with normal teen dating)?
- Manages to get time alone or insists on time alone with a child without interruptions?
- Spends most of his / her spare time with children and has little interest in spending time with someone their own age?
- Regularly offers to babysit many different children for free or takes children on overnight outings alone?
- Buys children expensive gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason?
- Frequently walks in on children / teens in the bathroom?
- Allows children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behaviors?
- Talks again and again about the sexual activities of children or teens?
- Talks about sexual fantasies with children and is not clear about what’s okay with children?
- Encourages silence and secrets in a child?
- Asks adult partners to dress or act like a child or teen during sexual activity?
- Often has a “special” child friend, maybe a different one from year to year?
- Spends most spare time on activities involving children or teens, not adults?
- Makes fun of a child’s body parts, calls a child sexual names?
Behavioral and Physical Warning Signs that a Child has been Abused:
Any one sign does not mean that the child was abused. Some of the behaviors below can show up during stressful times in a child’s life, as well as when abuse occurs. If you see several of these signs in a child you know well, please begin to ask questions.
- Nightmares, trouble sleeping, fear of the dark, or other sleeping problems.
- Extreme fear of “monsters”.
- Spacing out at times.
- Loss of appetite, or trouble eating or swallowing.
- Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, anger, or withdrawl.
- Fear of certain people or places. For example: a child may not want to be left alone with a baby-sitter, a friend, a relative, or some other child or adult; or a child who is usually talkative and cheery may become quiet and distant when around a certain person.
- Stomach illness all of the time with no identifiable reason.
- An older child behaving like a younger child, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.
- Sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children / siblings to behave sexually.
- New words for private body parts.
- Refusing to talk about a “secret” he or she has with an adult or older child.
- Talking about a new older friend.
- Suddenly having money.
- Cutting or burning herself or himself as an adolescent.
What To Say When Talking to Your Children:
- Avoid scary details. Include general information when speaking to children. You know more than your child needs to know. Use language that is honest and age-appropriate (e.g. “there are people who do bad things to children”).
- If your children could possibly have contact with a registered sex offender, you should show your children the sex offender’s photo. In a manner that does not incite panic: instruct your children to avoid contact with the offender, even if the offender’s offenses of conviction does not involve an offense against a child. Instruct them to avoid being in the vicinity of the offender’s residence or workplace.
- Encourage your children to tell you if the sex offender initiates contact with them. Review the public safety materials with your children.
- Encourage your children to tell you about any contact from any other person who makes them feel uncomfortable. It is important to teach your children about appropriate and inappropriate contact and to encourage regular discussion about their interactions with other people.
- Teach your children: DON’T take rides from strangers; DON’T harass or visit any sex offender’s home or yard; DO tell a safe adult if anyone acts inappropriately toward them (e.g. creepy, too friendly, threatening, offering gifts in a secret way, or touching them); DO RUN, SCREAM, and GET AWAY if someone is bothering them; DON’T keep secrets; DON’T assist strangers; DON’T go places alone; DO ask questions and DO talk about any uncomfortable feelings or interactions.
- Make it a habit to LISTEN to your children and to believe them. If a child feels listened to and believed about small everyday things, they are more likely to share the big scary things with you. Be sensitive to changes in your child’s behavior. Pay attention to your child’s feelings.