Last week a local Fox News Channel aired a story that hit a little too close to home.
The story is titled “Child Porn Investigation: His Charisma Can Fool You”. It’s about a family who are members of my former church and a 14-year old girl that was stalked by a pedophile. The really scary thing is this man was not some stranger, but a fellow staff member. He was a really nice guy.
Before you start thinking that could never happen at your church, don’t kid yourself. A few months ago there was a children’s pastor arrested at another influential church in Twin Cities for a propositioning kids on the Internet. In my opinion this problem is only going to get worse and most of our churches are not prepared.
I think we create a false sense of security in our churches.
We advertise that we have a safe environment for kids because we have done background checks on volunteers and we have a computerized check in system, but what if the pedophile is on staff and has no criminal history?
What if the pedophile is the guy you eat lunch with every day? The truth is that only 10% of victims are abused by a stranger while someone they trust like a teacher or family friend abuse 60% of victims.
The challenge for us that work in churches is that we want to create a culture of trust and acceptance and pedophiles know this. So what does a pedophile look like and how to I recognize a pedophile? You definitely don’t want to falsely accuse someone, but there are some red flags to look for.
In most instances, a pedophile is not some creepy homeless guy. He typically is male and a very like-able person. The experts say that pedophiles will go through a grooming process to gain the trust of their victim, so look for signs of grooming.
Grooming refers to the process the child molester undertakes to gain a child’s trust, and sometimes the parents’ trust as well.