Protecting Our Children from Predators: Admitting the Problem

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Jessica Lunsford…Caylee Anthony…Haleigh Cummings…Jessica Vargas…Trenton Duckett…and the list goes on. These are just a few of the names of children who have been killed or are missing here in the state of Florida, many of them in the Central Florida area. In the shadow of Disney World there are predators who would seduce and harm our children in ways we cannot imagine. As a test, I went to the sex offender and predator database for Florida and typed in the addresses of my home and of my work. Immediately hundreds of registered sex offenders popped onto the screen. It was startling and terrifying all at the same time. The Department of Justice estimates that, on average, there is one child molester per square mile in the United States. They also estimate that the average child molester victimizes between 50-150 children before he is arrested. Anna Salter, in her book “Predators”, cites research that says 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have sexual contact with an adult. She also notes that 3 years old is the most common age that sexual abuse occurs.
As a therapist, these figures startle and intrigue me; the fact that there are so many predators out there…mostly men, who are so emotionally deranged or wounded themselves that they are willing to commit unspeakable acts on young children. As a counselor, this is almost overwhelming to me in its magnitude.
As a parent……a father….a daddy………..it angers and disgusts me to my very core. As my awareness rises in this arena my protective instincts hit overdrive. As I see case after case on the news of missing children and children who have been victimized in some way and of the children that didn’t make it, whose remains have been discovered somewhere, carelessly discarded by someone who only viewed them as an object of that person’s warped and self-centered idea of pleasure, I am outraged and irate. I truly wish that I could assist the police on every one of these cases. I think of what Jessica Lunsford endured and mourn over what never should have happened to her. I reflect on Caylee Anthony and pray that there is justice for that little girl. The case concerning Haleigh Cummings haunts me every time I hear anything mentioned about it. Why can’t they find her??? And then I think of my little boy and my precious little girl and I wish I could keep them with me every minute of every day so they are protected and will never have to worry that they could part of this list.
And so, because I am limited in how I can offer assistance to the community in fighting this horrible epidemic….because I am not in a position to strap on a gun and hunt down the predators who stalk and pursue our children…I write.
This will begin a series of articles on how we, as parents, can better-protect our children from predators. I will be sharing research I have found in my training as a sex offender treatment specialist and other research that is out there from various authors and many others who have gone further than I in the fight to save our children. My prayer is that the articles I write will be a resource for parents that will give them greater courage and knowledge to protect their kids. The police cannot do it alone. After viewing the database, I know that there are too many predators out there for the limited number of law enforcement officers, try as they might. We, as the community, as parents, must join the fight. We must not sit back and just hope that our children will not be one of those chosen as targets. We must become informed about the nature of predators and learn as many safeguards as possible that will make our children a more difficult target than most predators want to focus on. We cannot be with our children 24-7, as much as we wish we could. However, we can gather the tools we need to become “parent warriors” who are alert, informed, and who arm their children with the emotional and safety-oriented weapons they will need as they venture into a world that is not as safe as we want it to be.
So fellow parents, though I write with the knowledge I have gathered as a therapist, the heart of these articles will be from my role as a daddy, one that is very protective of his babies, would fight to the death for all of them, and who wants to help you to fight for your own family. Together, we can make a difference.

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org

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