Study rips open the devious world of paedophiles

April 19th, 2008 - 12:33 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 19 (IANS) Researchers have unmasked how paedophiles use what has been called the “communication of deviance” to target a child’s innocence and vulnerability for nefarious ends. This knowledge could better equip parents and community members to prevent, or at least interrupt, the escalation of child sexual abuse.

“Our children are our greatest gift and our greatest responsibility. The fact that they could be abused in any way, shape or form is horrific - both in the moment of the abuse and in the long-term effect,” said Loreen Olson of Missouri University.

Olson and her co-authors analysed existing published material on paedophilia and child sexual abuse and proposed their theory that explains the communication process used by child predators.

According to the researchers, perpetrator first gains access to the potential victim through various exploitive means, including the core phenomenon of “deceptive trust development”.

It describes the predator’s ability to build a trusting relationship with the victim in order to improve the likelihood of sexual encounter. It is central to other manipulative strategies such as grooming.

Grooming sets the stage for abuse by desensitising the victim to sexual contact. It may include activities like sitting on a child’s bed and watching them get into their bedclothes, ‘accidentally’ touching them inappropriately, showing them child pornographic images, and making contact or sex play with implicit sexual suggestions.

As perpetrators are grooming their victims and building deceptive trust, they also work to isolate them both physically and emotionally from their support network.

Isolation strategies may include offers to baby sit, giving the child a ride home, and taking advantage of fragile family and friend relationships. Isolation causes the victim to become more and more dependent on the perpetrator.

A third strategy is the initial physical contact or verbal lead-ins that occur just prior to the sexual act. Examples include suggestions to play sex games, more explicit discussions about sexual issues, giving a child a rubdown, bathing or undressing a child, and instigating wrestling and other physical games as a means to escalate sexual physical contact.

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