Sex trafficking is the MOST COMMON TYPE of trafficking in the U.S. In 2021, 72% OF TRAFFICKING SITUATIONS were sexual exploitation.
The number of sex offenders across the United States continues to rise, increasing three percent from 2022 to February 2023, for a current total of 786,838 offenders, according to SafeHome.org
Taking care of our children must be a constant concern for parents. It is impossible for the state to protect all kids from abusers, or even worse, to solve all crimes of this nature. Therefore, it is the duty of a father to understand how child molesters think and act to prevent the victimization of his own children, as well as anyone else’s sons and daughters.
Jessica R. Blalock and Michael L. Bourke published an article titled ‘A Content Analysis of Pedophile Manuals’ (yes, there are manuals for pedophiles available on the internet) that, among many other topics, clarifies how these criminals select their victims.
According to the authors, examination of online communities associated with pedophilia and the study of incarcerated sexual offenders offer insights into the factors guiding their selection of victims. These factors include the ease of access, perceived vulnerabilities, and the allure or attractiveness of potential victims (Lanning, 2010; McAlinden, 2006; Mooney & Ost, 2013; Olson, Daggs, Ellevold, & Rogers, 2007). Interestingly, these categories align with a model presented in an FBI monograph (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008) that outlines the victim selection processes of serial murderers. According to the FBI’s monograph, serial killers are likely to choose their victims based on three main criteria: a) availability, which refers to the offenders’ access to potential victims; b) vulnerability, indicating the situations and circumstances in victims’ lives that offenders exploit; and c) desirability, which pertains to the attractiveness of potential victims or their ability to fulfill other intrinsic needs of the offenders.
The analysis reveals that these manuals are primarily concerned with the latter, acknowledging that children are universally available. Instead, they delve into the more intricate concept of accessibility, where pedophiles aim to interact with children who can be readily acquired. This distinction lies in the potential to reach these children, making their fantasies more attainable. The investigation primarily examines how these manuals guide offenders in getting close enough to commit abusive acts, often referred to as “kiddie hunting.” These documents offer strategies to circumvent protective practices employed by adults, emphasizing the challenges of gaining physical access to children. Furthermore, the manuals highlight children’s vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for exploiting their susceptibility, trust, and naiveté, often by becoming familiar or trusted figures within the victims’ inner circles.
The concept of vulnerability is inherent in predator-prey dynamics, and it is evident in the analyzed manuals. Previous studies by Conte, Wolf, and Smith (1989) and Elliott, Browne, and Kilcoyne (1995) found that adult sexual offenders often sought children with perceived vulnerabilities, such as quietness, withdrawal, lack of confidence, or low self-esteem. While this aspect aligns with the FBI’s serial homicide model, the manuals specifically emphasize the need for a feasible approach to the child. They suggest targeting sad and lonely children, making the approach convenient and safe, as highlighted by one manual’s author. Children present a unique challenge in this context, as their interaction with unfamiliar adults is more likely to raise suspicions, unlike adults who can engage with strangers without drawing much attention. Therefore, serial murderers need to identify the most vulnerable adults from an accessible pool, while child molesters must identify the most approachable children from a pool of vulnerable ones.
In cases of offenders targeting adults, the victims are often considered to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, presenting characteristics of availability (e.g., being alone in an isolated area) and vulnerability (e.g., intoxication). However, the FBI model introduces a third characteristic, “desirability,” which relates to how well the potential victim fits a profile that interests the offender (e.g., race, body type, professional status). For murderers, desirability typically hinges on physical appearance. Notably, the analyzed pedophile manuals do not emphasize the desirability of potential victims, assuming that readers are generally sexually attracted to children. Pedophiles may have preferences for specific age ranges or genders, but suitability, rather than desirability, becomes the primary focus for child victimization. Suitability involves evaluating various characteristics to determine which child is most likely to submit to abuse without attracting attention from authorities. It depends on factors like the child’s reaction to interactions, the desired length of the relationship, and perceived compatibility, often assessed in private settings. Children displaying loneliness, detachment, or behavioral issues are considered the easiest to seduce and less likely to be believed when they disclose the abuse.
For offenders seeking long-term abusive relationships, sustainability is a crucial aspect of their victim selection process. Sustainability pertains to the offender’s subjective belief that their plans for an abusive relationship will proceed as fantasized, remain fulfilling, and persist over time. This construct consists of several facets. The first facet is secrecy and silence, involving the offender’s confidence in preventing the victim from disclosing the abuse. While the manuals suggest various means to ensure silence, they do not explicitly mention the use of threats, as the offenders often believe that the exploitation is consensual or not harmful. The second facet, cooperativeness, compliance, and control, focuses on the need to ensure the child complies with their requests without resistance. If the victim is unwilling or unlikely to engage, the offender is advised to switch to another target or setting. The third facet, compatibility, involves ensuring the child behaves or reacts as expected in line with the offender’s fantasy. It hinges on characterological and behavioral factors rather than physical characteristics, with the goal of meeting the offender’s basic needs while minimizing negative aspects like guilt or shame. The offender aims to perceive the experience as positive, fulfilling their desires without unwanted factors.
For offenders seeking one-time abusive scenarios rather than establishing long-term relationships, the manuals offer advice to increase opportunities while minimizing risk. They caution readers about the limited margin for error when targeting a child in most neighborhoods. Specific advice includes strategies to avoid being identified, like traveling away from familiar areas and reducing the risk of encountering the child later. The manuals also stress the pervasive fear of getting caught. To address this concern, they recommend thoroughly reviewing the manual at least twice before taking any actions. If an offender seeks a one-time abuse situation, the manuals suggest finding a victim who cannot make a meaningful disclosure to caregivers or law enforcement. Such victims may include those with physical impairments, drugged individuals, or very young children.
In conclusion, the analysis of pedophilic online communities and studies of incarcerated sexual offenders sheds light on the intricate factors guiding their selection of victims. The pedophile manuals delve into the concept of accessibility, where pedophiles aim to interact with readily acquired children, emphasizing the challenges of gaining physical access to them. These documents offer strategies to circumvent protective practices employed by adults and provide recommendations for exploiting children’s vulnerabilities. Vulnerability, inherent in predator-prey dynamics, is a key consideration for both adult sexual offenders and child molesters. The manuals prioritize suitability over desirability, focusing on the child’s willingness to submit to abuse and their compatibility with the offender’s fantasies. Sustainability becomes crucial for offenders seeking long-term abusive relationships, encompassing secrecy, compliance, and compatibility. On the other hand, those interested in one-time abusive scenarios must maximize opportunities while minimizing risk, with a heightened fear of apprehension. Ultimately, these chilling manuals reveal a disturbing world of calculated victim selection and manipulation, underscoring the need for vigilance and protective measures to safeguard vulnerable individuals from potential harm.
Blalock, J. R., & Bourke, M. L. (2020). A content analysis of pedophile manuals. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 101482. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2020.101482