The sexual abuser/pedophile/molester/predator often looks and acts just like everybody else. We often have this vision of the creepy man in a trench-coat who lurks around unassumingly or the perverted looking guy who drives the ice cream truck. However, while some predators may in fact look like those characters, most often, the predator is a "normal looking" member of society. They may even be well respected members of their community. Typically, they are likable individuals who work everyday and would by all accounts be classified as an all-around "nice guy" if we surveyed their neighbors, friends, and family.

The truth of the matter is, the ploy of the sexual predator is gaining trust!! No parent with their wits about them would ever leave their children in the presence of, let alone the care of, some smarmy looking individual who doesn't "appear" to have their child's best interest at heart. This is why we, as parents, are often fooled by teachers, coaches, clergy, doctors, uncles, grandfathers, and dads. These people spend hours upon hours gaining our trust to the extent that parents eventually push their children into the beckoning arms of these predators. Parents take behavioral cues at face value and assume that by virtue of one's appearance, occupation, or familial status, they are trustworthy and have honorable intentions when it comes to our children. This is the farthest from the truth!

Stop looking at people and assigning labels to them as if these labels truly define who they are. As Natalie Lamb, President & Founder of It's Your Choice LLC, states, "Nice is a choice, not a character trait." Many people choose to be nice because of ulterior motives or a hidden agenda. Predators are some of the nicest, most altruistic, and charitable people you might come across. Think about it....of all the stories in the news of late, how many of the predators were actually reported as mean-spirited individuals with hateful and ugly mannerisms? Case and point....Jerry Sandusky was such a "nice guy" that he would pick up underprivileged boys and let them spend the night, take them to the Penn State campus and introduce them to the team, and he served as their father figure/role model. Is that the behavior of a pedophile? ABSOLUTELY! But by most people's account, they would have never suspected him of being a danger to ALL the kids around him, even his own.

We, as parents, just have to wake up and realize that this evil exists in plain sight, and predators have made it their life's work to weasel their way into our lives by design and for the purpose of harming our kids. We cant rely on public behavior, familial status, professional and/or community standing to determine the intentions of another when it comes to the well-being of our children. Don't be afraid to create your own circle of safety and require everyone in your child's life to adhere to the rules you deem necessary to protect them from predators and the like.