How Society Enables Child Molesters
Charles Whitfield, MD, (2001) researched the defense tactics of accused and convicted child molesters and found that of all the defenses that a child molester has at his disposal, the most effective is our collective desire not to know. We all so much want the abuse not to have happened that when an accused person says they didn’t do it, it resonates with our own personal hopes and beliefs about the incident.
Dr. Whitfield points out that child molesters play on our doubts that an otherwise respectable adult would ever sexually assault a child. Because we don’t want to believe it, every bit of evidence that is presented to us, no matter how convincing, is filtered out through the fine mesh of our desire to find some other explanation for the child’s disclosure. With this kind of internal pressure to disbelieve any and all evidence, our objectivity is impaired. We may then prematurely close our mind to the possibility of abuse making it difficult to carefully consider and weigh the evidence before us.
Anna Salter, PhD, an expert on sex offenders, interviewed numerous convicted child molesters in prison. Most reported abusing numerous children over many years before being caught. These child molesters told her that their chief enablers were the “good” people who do not want to believe that crimes such as child sexual abuse occur. They described how readily people handed over their children to them. The child molesters explained how their fears of being caught decreased as they discovered that most people are not suspicious, they trust others, and do not believe their children will be harmed by other adults who look attractive and act polite.
Unfortunately, the only way for good people to stop enabling child molesters is to become less trusting and better educated on a subject that makes us all uncomfortable.
Salter, A. (1998). Truth, lies and sex offenders (PAL Video), Thousand Oaks , CA : Sage.
Whitfield, C. L. (2001). The false memory defense: Using disinformation in and out of court. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 9(3-4), 53-78.