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Child Predators Can Be Any Relation, Any Age

A 77-year-old man is charged with 28 counts of child abuse, ranging from first-degree felonies of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, sodomy of a child, and second-degree felony of sexual exploitation of a minor. The victims – his three grandchildren.

The abuse took place over six years. When the abuse began, one of the victims was in kindergarten, and the other children were ages 8 and 11.

While babysitting, the grandfather forced the children to watch pornography and then instructed the older brother to simulate sex acts with his sister. The man also performed sex acts on the children and forced them to reciprocate.

In 1989, the man was convicted on three counts of first-degree felony of sexual abuse of a child in another court. Cimaron Neugebauer, "Grandfather charged with sexually abusing grandchildren," www.sltrib.com (Feb. 16, 2012).

Commentary

Parents and caregivers should never leave children with anyone but an entrusted and known-to-be-safe adult. This case demonstrates that parents must watch and listen for signs of abuse no matter the caregiver's relationship to the child.

Child abusers cross all barriers of age, sex, ethnicity, as well as social and economic status. Family members commit up to 47 percent of sexual assaults on children, despite what should be a trusted and safe relationship.

Parents and caregivers should question children about their time spent with other adults. If the child appears to be withholding information or is afraid to share, try to provide a safe environment so that the child feels comfortable talking with a safe adult. Never assume that someone is safe because of his or her family or other relationship to the child, or his or her social or professional status.

If your child acts uneasy around a family member or another adult, ask yourself why and then ask your child. Drop in unannounced when your child is spending time alone with any adult.

Here are some signs to watch for that may indicate a person is not safe for a child:
  • A person that spends or makes frequent requests to spend time alone with a child apart from other adults.
  • A person who spends an inordinate amount of time with the child, especially time alone with the child;
  • A person who shows an unusual interest in the child, while possibly ignoring other children;
  • A person who makes frequent offers to watch the child for the parent or caregiver.
  • A person who seeks to take the child on trips away from the parent or caregiver;
  • A person who provides the child with special treatment or gifts;
  • A person who acts like a child, talks like a child, or does childish things;
  • A person who allows a child to ignore or bend the rules of his or her parents or caregivers;
  • A person who spends more time with the child than with other children or adults;
  • A person who contradicts or demeans the child's parents or caregivers to the child; and/or
  • A person who takes pictures of the child or of other children who are not his or her own.
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