Integrity Matters
October 25, 2006

Always protect the children

Question: (E-263)

Dear Jim:

Children are being sexually abused in alarming numbers. As caring and responsible adults, how can we learn to identify predators before they do harm?


Those afflicted with whatever sickness that enables them to violate young people, including infants, must be identified, isolated, treated and, if necessary, incarcerated. The eyes and ears of a caring public must be trained to identify the "child abuse" signs, early, and initiate protective responses.

The Rev. Gerald Coleman, a Roman Catholic priest, has identified 23 Signs and Cautions of Sexual Abuse of Minors. Coleman's announced goal is to upgrade the process of identifying anyone who might further disgrace society and the Roman Catholic Church.

He lists 11 "warning signs" apply to potential abusers who might be targeting young people. Not designed as blanket indictments for anyone who displays affection for and with children, nonetheless, they clearly alert responsible adults to pay attention to the integrity of the environments provided to children.

Among the warning signs are the following behaviors in an adult or older youth:

  • Prefers time with minors to time with peers. Goes overboard with physical contact with minors. Treats minors like equals. Keeps secrets with minors.
  • Ignores policies about interacting with minors. Uses inappropriate language with minors.

Be on the alert to additional risks to children related to inappropriate displays of intimacy. Among 12 cited by Coleman are:

  • Any form of unwanted affection. Massages. Patting children on the thigh, knee or leg.
  • Games involving inappropriate touching. Kisses on the mouth. Showing affection in isolated places. Compliments that relate to physique or body development.

Children may or may not know what feels right to them, but a caring and observant adult can protect them by considering these actions:

  • Remove accused perpetrator, immediately. Clarify concerns to alleged perpetrator, privately. Reassure child. Investigate and seek advice from authorities, including the police.
  • Stay alert and maintain an integrity-centered environment for all children, making sure the individual or agency providing care for your child conducts background checks. Conduct random unscheduled check-ins on providers Keep Internet access in public areas. Install discreet surveillance cameras.
Responsible and caring adults protect those unable to protect themselves because it is the right thing to do.

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