While people abuse those around them for many reasons, the pedophile is in a class all his own. He has a preference for the underaged. Don't be afraid of this subject or of discussing it with your clients or speaking of it in the community. Ignorance is the pedophile's ally. It allows him to operate under the radar, while the good folks of the world look away from his heinous activity. The truth is disturbing, but refusing to face it puts children at risk. Alternatively, knowledge is power, power that allows the good guys to fight back.
Pedophiles are usually grown men who are sexually attracted to juveniles, although 25 percent of molesters are women. Self-report studies have shown that many have a definite preference for the sex, age, and appearance of their victims, while some prey according to opportunity. Many pedophiles keep their preference for children a secret, even from family members.
The North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) has openly declared a love of young boys and what it sees as a right to choose them as sex partners. The Internet has allowed this group to become a global danger. Many hidden pedophiles also use this group to groom and meet boys.
As with other cases that require more time than most police departments can afford to spend, PIs are often hired by individuals, attorneys, or even the police to help investigate pedophiles. Social networking sites have information that can help the investigation. Sometimes pedophiles give up their information. Under pressure from parents' groups and law enforcement, networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have purged their sites of known sex offenders on several occasions and now advertise that they police themselves. The problem is that it's so very easy to be someone else on the Internet — and many abusers remain unidentified.
Pedophiles remain a threat in the physical as well as the online world.
Some law enforcement and private organizations' mission is to identify and arrest pedophiles before they have a chance to hurt children. PIs who are interested in this work should be sure that they are proficient in the language people use on these social networking sites. The Urban Dictionary (
Many of these organizations use people to pose as juveniles. For legal purposes, there are many rules in baiting online pedophiles. The undercover operative cannot make the first move and cannot elicit contact or make sexual innuendos. As far as keeping tabs on known or suspected abusers, nothing beats old-fashioned surveillance.
How can I locate my state laws?
It's important to be familiar with state laws concerning sex offenses, electronic monitoring, and offender registration. Associates of John Walsh's National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FamilyWatchdog. us site lists current sex offender laws and definitions for each state. Find them at
If you think you know a child abuser or have spotted a fugitive abuser, go to the FBI Web site,