Child Abuse: An Overview


There is a class of individuals who prey on children sexually.  They are known as pedophiles.

“Despite a common myth, homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.”7

“Who are the abusers? Although many parents fear the unknown “molester,” a child is actually much more likely to be abused by someone he or she knows. An abuser can be anyone caring for a child: a parent or other relative, a baby-sitter, a teacher, a neighbor or a friend.”2

“Contrary to popular belief, perpetrators of sexual abuse are well known to the child in 85% of reported cases. This statistic dispels the myth that only strangers molest children.”10

Pedophiles will go to great lengths to gain access to children. Pedophiles have volunteered at church youth groups, worked as camp counselors, coached youth athletic teams and more. Though the number of pedophiles is unknown, from the amount of pedophile-oriented pornographic material on the internet it can only be assumed that there are more pedophiles than current estimates suggest. An individual does not necessarily have to molest children to be diagnosed a pedophile. The term is a medical diagnosis applied to adults who have these abnormal sexual desires and urges.

Delaplane and Delaplane describe one particularly disturbing aspect of some pedophiles. “Single mothers are particularly vulnerable to the designs of the pedophile. This person will offer to be a friend to the child participating in sports, taking on hiking trips, etc. The mother, anxious for the children to have a male image, often readily goes along with these offers from ‘such a nice person.’ The fixated pedophile is ‘very good’ to the child as one might expect in pursuing a sexual experience.”10 Pedophiles will go so far as to date or marry a single mother to gain access to her children.

For a better understanding of pedophilia, see Fact Sheet: Pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association and Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis For Law Enforcement Officers Investigating Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation, from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 12/92.

Child Abuse Introduction   |   Signs of Child Abuse
Child Abuse Statistics   |   It’s Under Reported
Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Abuse General
Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Child Sexual Abuse
Injuries to Children: Physical and Sexual Abuse
Effects of Child Abuse on Adults: Childhood Abuse
Effects of Child Abuse on Adults: Childhood Sexual Abuse
Definition of Physical Abuse   |   Signs of Physical Abuse
Definition of Sexual Abuse   |   Signs of Sexual Abuse
Definition of Child Neglect   |   Signs of Child Neglect
Definition of Emotional Abuse   |   Signs of Emotional Abuse
Abusers   |   Pedophiles
Child Physical Abuse and Corporal Punishment
Treatment for Child Abuse
Costs to Society
State Child Abuse Laws
Nationwide Crisis Line and Hotline Directory

Referring to this article:
“Child Abuse: An Overview” was written by C. J. Newton, MA, Learning Specialist and published in the Find (formerly Mental Health Journal in April, 2001.

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