Paul Mones, children’s rights advocate & sexual abuse attorney, discusses “What is grooming and how do child molesters groom children?”

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Paul Mones, children’s rights advocate & sexual abuse attorney, explains the BSA IV or perversion files.

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Paul Mones, children’s rights advocate & sexual abuse attorney, discusses the warning signs of a child molester.

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Paul Mones:

The Boy Scouts of America was founded in the United States around 1910. Within ten years, the Boy Scouts knew they had a problem with adult leaders joining Scouts to molest them. That was their sole purpose, and they started maintaining files on these Scouts. The files were called at first the “Red Flag Files,” then they became called the “Confidential Files,” then the “Ineligible Volunteer Files,” also known by the phrase “IV”. And what these files contained were reports to the main Scout office – at first it was in New Jersey, and then it was where it is now in Irving, Texas- of Scout leaders who committed sexual misconduct, who raped and otherwise sexually abused and molested boys who were entrusted to their care. And these files gave the Boy Scouts of America a total picture of what was happening around the United States with regard to Scout leaders who molested Scouts. The Boy Scouts, based upon these documents, knew that most of the Scout leaders who molested Scouts were single males with no kids in the troop. Yes, are there a few cases where there are Scout leaders who molested who had children? Yes, but most of them were single males. Most of the boys were molested, as the files show, in the context of Scouting activities. The Scout leaders would gain their trust , gain the support of these young boys by conducting – by doing – merit badge exercises and other scouting exercises where they bring, where they draw the boys in and then they would molest them. We know that the abuse occurred when the Scout leaders tended to be alone with the boys. We know that these Scout leaders also showed a great interest, and this is one of the most difficult things to identify, but showed a great interest in the boys outside of Scouting, so they befriended the parents. They would take the kids to school. They would babysit sometimes for these boys. The whole body of knowledge that the Boy Scouts of America developed over this time let them understand how pervasive the problem was, and unlike the Catholic Church which only knew based upon the diocese where the priests who were molesting were residing, the Boy Scouts knew it was happening in Montana, in Florida, in New Mexico, in New Jersey, in New York, big towns, small towns, wherever they were, they knew the way Scout leaders were molesting Scouts, and they had that information, and that information allowed them to know the scope of their problem, which was at least in the period of 1965 to 1985 was about 50 Scouts a year. And so the perversion files, in essence, we understand to be the largest repository of knowledge pedophiles that any one youth organization has ever maintained.


Paul Mones:

Grooming is the process by which a child molester gains control of the child for purposes of molesting him, and often times part of that process is grooming the family. Grooming is a non-violent process. It doesn’t involve the child molester hitting the kid. It typically doesn’t involve the child molester threatening the child. It doesn’t involve the child molester stalking the child, making the child fearful. No, what grooming involves is making the child feel comfortable with the molester and the way the molester does that, the way the pedophile does that is to first be friendly to the child, present a friendly ear to the child. Typically these children who are molested are kids who have problems in the home. Sometimes they have problems with self-esteem. What’s the best thing you can give a kid with problems with self-esteem or a kid with problems in the home? What you give them is attention. That is the first thing that happens. And that attention first is compliments. And the compliments are followed by spending more time with the child. Doing a favor for the child. Doing the child’s homework. That’s followed by small presents: McDonald’s hamburgers, buying the child a pair of sneakers. Then the molester, sometimes at the same time, moves on to groom the parents because what a molester knows is that in order for me to get this kid where I want him I need to have the parents feel comfortable. Parents, though, are really in an impossible situation because most parents don’t see it coming. They just view this person as a nice guy. They view the offer to babysit as being one of “Oh what a nice teacher,” “What a nice scoutmaster,” “What a nice priest” or the priest who wants to come in and say prayers with the child in his room – “What a nice guy,” and they don’t realize that this is the way slowly but surely hooking . . . getting their hooks in deeper and deeper, and then what follows, sometimes at the same time as the presents start, is the innocuous touch, the rub across the arm, the tussle of the hair, the slight embrace, finally sometimes people say, “You know, I always thought there was something weird about that guy, he was always hugging the kids.” Well that’s the way that they start. It’s a little embrace, and then when the molester sees that the child is not opposing it, they go a little further. They go a little further to when they start touching the genitals or the kissing. So that’s what starts it. By the time the touches go from what the child thinks was only an accidental touch or it was just a hug to the actual sexual touches and sexual acts, it’s way too late. The kid can’t get out of it. The kid starts believing (A) why would a person who I trust do these things to me unless it was right, so the sexual abuse becomes normalized in the child’s life and the kid doesn’t see the need to report that abuse or to tell his parents about it unless it’s really making the child feel uncomfortable, and you only see that when the kid typically is getting a little older, and then what will happen is the kid will feel embarrassed, he’ll think “Maybe I’m gay” if it’s a man on a man or if it’s a girl she’ll think “Maybe people will think I’m a slut if I say something” or “I’ll be blamed,” and so then, the grooming period, the grooming has done its job, and now the child is in the clutches of the person who is going to destroy his future.


Paul Mones:

Many people will tell you there’s no single profile of a child molester. But I think what we have to look at is there are two types of child molesters. There are child molesters like the guy sitting outside a school or outside an arcade who draws the kid in with candy or draws the kid in with showing the kid dirty pictures and then gets the child and violently molests the child. That’s one kind. That’s not the kind of child molester we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about are those people – teachers, youth leaders, priests, scout leaders – who work in youth organizations, institutions of trust, and while it’s not true in every single case, we pretty much know that most child molesters have these kinds of characteristics. Often times and, again, we have to realize that over ninety percent of people who molest children – and some statistics show it higher – are males who molest young girls, and males who molest young boys. And we also, of course, have the parents who molest their children, and we’re not talking about those people, as well. We’re talking about people who molest in the context of an institution, and in these situations, we tend to find that these people are single, unattached persons. These people present a terrific, eager interest in children. They cater to children. They know what children like almost better than the parents who send their children to these institutions know. They present themselves as people who will spend any hour of the day to meet the child’s needs. So after the child leaves the Scout troop, or after the child leaves the Boys and Girls Club, they come home, and they need something – for instance go to travel for school supplies – that person will do it for them. So, again, what people need to look at are people who are over eager to be around children. People whose homes -when they go into the person’s home, they see that they have kids’ games around the house. They have things that children will be attracted to because the one thing about child molesters is that they know what children want. They have practiced it for years, and years, and years. And the thing about child molesters and the way they practice it is they go from job to job attempting to molest . . .molesting children, then leaving if somebody figures out who they are. And so molesters, while they’re not cut out of one cookie cutter, they’re people who seek the attention of children. And it’s a gut reaction to the extent that nobody can say “Yes, that’s a child molester,” but people have a queasy feeling. When people are interviewed typically after these cases are over, they say, “You know, I always saw that so-and-so, he always wanted to be around my kid, but I thought he just was being nice about it because my kid never complained.” And so, I think the most important thing to take away is you gotta look for people -typically single males who have a great interest in the child. Even coaches who want to do more for the kid even after the coaching is over. They want to take the kid out for a – and there’s nothing wrong with this obviously because the coaches, my kids’ coaches have done this in the past – want to take the kids out for a dinner afterward, but you really have to monitor that. You really have to look at that because when it becomes a pattern and practice in their behavior, then you have to be concerned. And so while again most people will be told there’s no profile to a child molester, the person that spends a lot of time with your kid, the person that gives presents to your kid, the person that shows up at strange times like in the early evening to take your child to a music lesson when you haven’t called them, the person who offers to babysit your child from the school, a teacher who wants to have the child come over and do some work on their house and pays them . . . Those are the types of people that you should at least be concerned about and look closely at because child molesters disappear into the fabric of the culture they’re living in, and so it does take and that’s why training is so important to really help identify these people. That’s why we have experts in our cases come in to talk about the grooming process because child molesters know how to groom, and the grooming process – recognizing the grooming process is recognizing the profile of a child molester.

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