Child Sexual Abuse:
Perhaps the “Nice Guy” isn't so Nice?
"He was so kind, deeply involved in the community, always doing what was best for the children and their families."
"He doesn’t look like a monster. He would never do such a thing."
Maybe he would. Maybe he did.
It is a common misconception that you can easily spot perpetrators of child sexual abuse, but in reality it’s not so simple. Perpetrators are often the people you trust the most: teachers, coaches, daycare providers, religious leaders, neighbors, family members. They don’t look like someone who would harm a child. In fact, they often appear as just the opposite: as someone who cares for children. They are rarely strangers. To the contrary, approximately 90% of perpetrators are people you and your family know and care about.
Are you surprised by this? Don’t be. Predatory offenders work hard to blend into the community and the lives of their victims. They seek out their victims, who are often lonely, troubled, or just young and trusting, and begin the process of “grooming.” To be successful, a child molester has to be extremely caring and generous to his victim as well as everyone who is close to the victim.
Through grooming, an offender slowly draws the victim into a sexual relationship, maintained in secrecy, while filling roles that make him trusted and valued by the victim’s family. Think of:
Earl Bradley, a Delaware pediatrician who lured and sexually abused 86 patients over 11 years
Lawrence Joynes, an elementary and middle school music teacher in Maryland who abused over 15 students in elementary and middle school over two decades
"Jerry" Sandusky, Penn State football coach and founder of The Second Mile, a non-profit charity serving at-risk youth, who was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse
All of them prominent in their communities. All of them "nice guys."
While this information is quite alarming, it’s not our intention to frighten you or have you mistrust everyone, but rather to make you aware of signs that someone may be a perpetrator. A potential child sex abuser may:
Spend more time with children than with other adults, so much that it appears unusual
Give children gifts, outings, or special attention for no special reason
Treat a child as if he or she is older
Gradually cross physical boundaries and become increasingly intimate
Use blame, secrecy, and threats to maintain control
Touch a child’s private parts “accidentally” to gauge the reaction
Tickle, wrestle, or hug a child even if the child does not want to be touched
Show a lack of respect for personal/privacy boundaries
Encourage a child to keep secrets
Attempt to weaken the child/parent bond
Be quick to connect romantically with single parents
The most critical thing you can do is be watchful. Pay attention to the children around you. Look for clues indicating they may have been or are being abused, such as a change in demeanor, loss of interest in social activities, or a drop in grades. Listen to them if they are trying to tell you something is wrong. While they might not have the words to describe exactly what has happened, they will get their point across. If you suspect a child has been abused, be supportive and immediately seek help.
More information regarding indicators of sexual abuse can be found here.
For more general information and other helpful resources, click here.
We were so lucky to have found such a kind soul to photograph The Tree House Tour de Cookie this past year. Photographer Suzanne Stoutcontinues to support The Tree House even after the event. If this photograph moves you then click on it and see how buying a copy helps The Tree House!
Staff Spotlight First in a Series
A. Thomas Grazio, LCSW-C, Director of The Tree House
Tom Grazio has nearly forty years in child protection, including seven years as director of Child Welfare Services for the state of Maryland. During the emergence of child advocacy centers, multidisciplinary teams, and victim-focused services, Mr. Grazio held key positions in the field, including program manager for the Navy/Marine Corps Family Advocacy Program at the Pentagon, clinician and trainer on child abuse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and founder of the Navy Family Service Center at the Philadelphia Naval Base. Mr. Grazio joined The Tree House in February 2012.
When asked why he decided to work at The Tree House he replied, "Because I couldn't get a job pitching for the Phillies."
Obviously, he couldn't get a job in comedy either.
Our beautiful new brochure is complete!
We want to thank Amanda Baker for using her artistry to convey the warmth and caring we strive to provide at The Tree House.
The good people at Dawson's Market in Rockville have taken on our mission of healing abused and neglected children in a big way. They've given us space to promote our organization several times, are planning to host a snack drive for our children, and intend to get involved with our Tree House Tour de Cookie. We look forward to our future association in support of the children!
While you've been enjoying your summer, we've been working on the beginnings of a fabulous Tree House Tour de Cookie, set for May 7, 2016. This year we have a few changes to tell you about:
We've added a mid-length route of 26 miles.
Our pricing will not change throughout the course of the year. There will be one set price for individuals and another for team members.
We are capping our ridership at 750 riders to ensure a safe and fun event, so be sure to register early!
We are dreaming up unusual ways for non-riders to get involved. Watch for some new events at the expo.
Registration is not open yet, but keep checking back here to make sure you don't miss it. Registration should be open sometime in September. We're also adding new sponsorship opportunities. We'll be posting them here soon. Please check our future newsletters, our Facebook event page, Twitter, and our Tree House Tour de Cookie website for additional information. We'll also notify you when our movie from the 2015 Tree House Tour de Cookie is complete. We have already heard that it's going to be awesome!
Help us spread the word about The Tree House. Forward this newsletter to a few friends!
Support The Tree House
You can help us provide mental health, medical, victim advocacy and other services to abused and neglected children in Montgomery County. All it takes is a small donation.
We are in desperate and immediate need of donations to put toward transportation costs! Please help us get children to the services they need.