Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Religious, Interfaith Environmental Organizations Put The Faith Back In Green Activism


The Huffington Post
by Antonia Blumberg
April 22, 2014

Green activism is often largely a scientific and political affair. But it doesn't need to be that way. Some of the best-known environmental organizations in the U.S. began with religious or spiritual roots: According to its website, Greenpeace was founded in a church basement by activists inspired by the Quaker tradition of "bearing witness." Sierra Club's most prominent founder, John Muir, is said to have been a deeply spiritual man influenced by transcendentalism.

Many religious and interfaith organizations today carry on the tradition of faith-based environmental activism and stewardship.

Here are 14 organizations working to protect the environment from a place of faith. What inspiring faith-based environmental organizations have we missed? Let us know in the comments.


GreenFaith is an interfaith organization that works primarily with houses of worship, religious schools and faith groups to educate them on sustainability and green practices. The organization has three core values that guide its work: spirit, stewardship and justice.

Interfaith Power & Light

Founded in 1998, Interfaith Power & Light offers a faith-based response to global warming. Now present in states around the U.S., IPL has a commitment to earth stewardship and uses education, advocacy and activism to address environmental concerns.

National Religious Partnership for the Environment

The National Religious Partnership for the Environment brings together independent faith groups, including the Catholic Climate Covenant, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, Creation Justice Ministries and more. Through scholarship, leadership trainings and congregational outreach the organization aims to advocate for the environment as an extension of the divine.

The Shalom Center

Based in Philadelphia, the Shalom Centerincorporates Jewish and interfaith values to address climate change, food justice and endangered species.

Evangelical Environmental Network

The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN)looks to the Bible's teachings to inform its eco activism. Inspired by the Bible's charge of stewardship and "tending the garden," EEN publishes Creation Care magazine, hosts podcasts and trainings and offers sustainability resources for churches and individuals.

Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development

Based in Jerusalem, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development bring faith communities together to promote sustainability through advocacy, education and action projects. The Center's initiatives include eco conferences, eco tourism, women's activism, interfaith work and more.


Initiated in 2009 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC),EcoSikh works to connect Sikh values and beliefs to the cause of environmentalism. The organization's main programs include Sikh Environment Day, a green pilgrimage network and a campaign to make gurdwaras more sustainable.

Green Muslims

Initiated at a zero-waste iftar during Ramadan in 2007, Green Muslims at once aims to inspire Muslims toward green activism and to provide a bridge between Muslim communities and environmental organizations. The organization hosts farm work days and river clean ups and offers toolkits for green Ramadans.

A Rocha

A Rocha is an international Christian environmental organization. Guided by Christian principles, A Rocha funds scientific research and environmental education to address pressing ecological concerns around the world.

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) aims to bring the Jewish community together in earth stewardship through outreach and activism. COEJL also partners with other faith groups and focuses on issues ranging from endangered species to energy security to clean air.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Environmental Justice Program

The Environmental Justice Program (EJP) offers resources for Catholic dioceses to serve their communities through environmental activism.

Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Founded in 1978, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship works to connect Buddhist teachings with environmental activism, and vice versa, through online media, trainings and education. The Fellowship also incorporates race, gender and eco-justice into its green activism.

The Forum on Religion and Ecology

Yale University's Forum on Religion and Ecologycombines conferences, publications and web outlets to explore religious and environmental ethics. The Forum places religion in dialogue with other disciplines, such as science, economics, education and public policy.

Creation Justice Ministries

Formerly the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program, Creation Justice Ministriesworks with 37 national faith groups from different Christian denominations on environmental justice policies. The group's campaigns range from climate change to food justice to green buildings and more.

Sexual Predation: Its Causes, Behavior, and Treatment.

Below are several links related to sexual predation. When talking about taking Christian responsibility for the healing our sin-sick world one of those "job descriptors" would be addressing the perverse need of human beings for sexual victimization. Primarily that of helpless children. Into this area comes a wealth of help from the ready hands of social workers, clinicians, protective services, and the legal system.

It is a prevalent sickness in society that goes unnoticed until it harms a known child or child-center in our area that quickly sets off the alarm bells of our souls in dismay and disgust. When watching a follow up interview with the sexual predator they speak the classic lines rehearsed all too well in the patterns and speeches described in the intervening articles posted below. Many are narcissistic or borderline personality disorders. Many are not. Some show all the typical traits of a sexual predator. Others keep this closely guarded until discovered. A simple police survey of your neighborhood will show most offenders to be sexual in nature beyond the mundane B&E and domestic disputes.

As any community knows, a healthy social workers educational program and employment of a variety of area social agencies will go a long ways to offsetting the disturbing trend of victimization. From top to bottom it is a sickness that many times may be preventable if diagnosed early and treated appropriately. And more often it is the result of dysfunctional families or abusive parenting that themselves require the Lord's healing touch and mercy into their broken lives.

Simply witnessing or praying may not be enough in the case of abuse or dysfunctionalism. In fact it may take a consistent ministry of adoption of that broken family or person into the folds of a fellowship's more mature ministries and support groups that may begin the real process for help and healing. But not naively nor ignorantly. Our public schools are one such preventative organization working to break of this social cycle. The church, working with area schools and agencies, can be another. Homeless youth ministries and sexual trafficking agencies a third. And so.

Below are several articles related to sexual offenders. What is not posted are the psychological disorders that may drive these offenders to predation. However, what is more important is identifying key indicators of social disorder or disruption in order to address those areas that can affectively be addressed. By becoming aware of some of the more prevalent traits of our community's children and adult populations. To form and employ organized networks of professional help through area community services as they are available. And when listening to the testimony of the sexual offender to not listen naively but to hear intuitively beyond the words and emotions the offender wishes to portray to his counsel. Good social counselors and clinicians hear past the offender's words and are the more able to directly address the greater personal needs hidden underneath.

May our prayers this day rest upon those the Lord has gifted to minister to the distressed and hurting. May He give His special strength and wisdom to those of His servants to not dispair, become weary, or despondent in their tasks. May these, His special ministers, be blessed. From the teachers and administrators of our public schools, to area social agencies that work with underfunded budgets and constrained help. To heal a community is to see the individual on the street, the forgotten in the home, the faceless in our societies. It is not enough to provide police services and legal protection. It must also start on the front lines of our social agencies, public counsels and schools, hospitals, and church ministries. It will require a mature public network at the hands of many to accomplish. And mostly, he will take a community devoted to this holy task in order to begin a work of miracles. Peace.

R.E. Slater
April 30, 2014

What is social work? Individuals and communities seeking social equality, human justice,
and compassion, to the disadvantaged. To those without words. Without justice. Without
voice, or representation. To be a voice and to make a difference.

- GVSU Graduation Speech by a Professor
from the School of Social Work, April 25, 2014

* * * * * * * * * * *

Behavior of a Sex offender


Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:01 pm

Excuse Making

Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, the sexual offender tries to justify his behavior. For example, "I was molested as a child" or "I was drunk when I did it" or "When she said no, I thought she meant yes."


The sexual offender shifts responsibility for his actions from himself to others, a shift that allows him to blame the other person for "causing" his behavior. For example, "She was acting provocatively."


In a variation on the tactic of blaming, the sexual offender redefines the situation so that the problem lies not with him but with the outside world in general. For example, "It is society's fault."

Success Fantasies

The sexual offender believes he would be rich, famous, or extremely successful in some other terms if only people were not holding him back. He uses this belief to justify his assault. The sexual offender also puts other people down verbally in order to make himself feel superior.


The sexual offender uses lies to control the information available and therefore to control the situation. The sexual offender also may use lying to keep other people, including his victim, off-balance psychologically. For example, he tries to appear truthful when he's lying, he tries to look deceitful even when he's telling the truth, and sometimes he reveals himself in an obvious lie.


Sexual offenders often assume they know what others are thinking or feeling. Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they "know" what the other person would think or do in a given situation. For example, "I could tell she wanted me to do it."

Above The Rules

As mentioned earlier, a sexual offender generally believes he is better than other people and so does not have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convictedcriminals, too. Each inmate in a jail typically believes that while all the other inmates arecriminals, he himself is not. A sexual offender shows "above the rules" thinking when he says, for example, "I don't need counseling. Nobody knows as much about my life as I do. I can stop anytime I want to."

Making Fools Of Others

The sexual offender combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch his or her reactions, and encouraging fights between or among others. Or, he may try to charm the person he wants to manipulate, pretending a lot of interest or concern for that person in order to get on her or his good side.


The sexual offender usually keeps his assaultive behavior separate from the rest of his life, physically and psychologically. An example of physical separation is the abuser's sexually assaultingfamily members but not people outside the family. An example of psychological separation is the offender attending church Sunday morning and sexually assaulting his victim Sunday night. He sees no inconsistency in his behavior and feels justified in it.


The sexual offender ducks responsibility for his actions by trying to make them seem unimportant. For example: "It was no big deal" or "She wanted it anyway."


Sexual offenders are not actually angrier than other people. Anger is a tool offenders use. They deliberately appear to be angry in order to control situations and people.

Power Plays

The sexual offender uses various tactics to overcome resistance to his bullying. For instance, he berates the victim, calling her a "tease," a "slut," etc. If they have friends or acquaintances in common, he may organize others to shun or criticize her for daring to "accuse" him of rape or sexual assault. maybe even calling her crazy?

Playing Victim

Occasionally the sexual offender will pretend to be helpless or will act persecuted in order to manipulate the victim into accompanying him or staying with him. Here, the offender thinks that if he does not get what he wants, he is the victim; and he uses the disguise of victim to attack or make fools of others.

Drama And Excitement

Sexual offenders make the choice not to have close relationships with other people. They substitute drama and excitement for closeness. Offenders find it exciting to watch others get angry, get into fights, or be in a state of general uproar. Often, they will use a combination of tactics described earlier to set up a dramatic and exciting situation.

Closed Channel

The sexual offender does not reveal much about his real feelings, and he is not open to newinformation about himself such as insights into how others see him. He is secretive, close-minded, and self-righteous. He believes he is right in all situations.


The sexual offender typically is very possessive. Moreover, he believes that anything he wants should be his, and anything that is his he can do with as he pleases. That attitude applies to people as well as to possessions. It justifies his controlling behavior, physically abusive behavior, and taking others' possessions.


The sexual offender usually thinks of himself as strong, superior, independent, self-sufficient, and very masculine. His idea of the ideal man often is the cowboy or the adventurer type. Any action or perceived attitude of another person that does not conform to his glorified self-image is seen as a putdown.

* * * * * * * * * * *



Child sexual abuse or child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation.[1][2] Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, physical sexual contact with a child, or using a child to produce child pornography.[1][3][4]

Child sexual abuse can occur in a variety of settings, including home, school, or work (in places where child labor is common). Child marriage is one of the main forms of child sexual abuse; UNICEF has stated that child marriage "represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls".[5] The effects of child sexual abuse can include depression,[6] post-traumatic stress disorder,[7] anxiety,[8] complex post-traumatic stress disorder,[9] propensity to further victimization in adulthood,[10] and physical injury to the child, among other problems.[11] Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, and can result in more serious and long-termpsychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.[12]

The global prevalence of child sexual abuse has been estimated at 19.7% for females and 7.9% for males, according to a 2009 study published in Clinical Psychology Review that examined 65 studies from 22 countries. Using the available data, the highest prevalence rate of child sexual abuse geographically was found in Africa (34.4%), primarily because of high rates in South Africa; Europe showed the lowest prevalence rate (9.2%); America and Asia had prevalence rates between 10.1% and 23.9%.[13] In the past, other research has concluded similarly that in North America, for example, approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men were sexually abused when they were children.[14][15][16] Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances, such as "friends" of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases.[14] Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; studies show that women commit 14% to 40% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls.[14][15][17] Some sources report that most offenders who have sexually abused a prepubescent child are pedophiles,[18] but some offenders who have sexually abused a prepubescent child do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia.[19][20]

Under the law, child sexual abuse is an umbrella term describing criminal and civil offenses in which an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor or exploits a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification.[4][21] The American Psychiatric Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults", and condemns any such action by an adult: "An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior."[22]


* * * * * * * * * * *

Section 3: Common Characteristics
of Sex Offenders

45 Minutes


Use Slide #1: Understanding Sex Offenders: An Introductory Curriculum

Enlarge Slide 1


In this section, we’re going to spend some time considering what the research and practice literature tells us about sex offenders, in terms of some characteristics that they may share as a group overall, as well as some ways in which they differ. Researchers have invested a great deal of effort in exploring these issues so that we may begin to understand or explain why some individuals engage in sexually abusive behaviors, and so that we are better able to make decisions about the kinds of interventions that may be most effective for certain aspects of this population. This has proven to be much easier said than done, however.

The Myth of the “Sex Offender Profile”

Oftentimes, the public wants to know who sex offenders are—or who potential sex offenders might be—based on certain personality characteristics, demographics, or other variables, perhaps because of their understandable desire to be able to “spot” these individuals and take protective measures. In fact, for those who are operating under myths or misperceptions about sex offenders and victimization, they may even believe that all sex offenders fit a certain “profile” that makes them easily identified. For example, you might remember the myth that the typical child molester is a “dirty old man” who hangs out at a park or playground waiting to lure a child away with candy. Or that the typical rapist is a masked knife–wielding man lurking in a dark alley or hiding behind a bush waiting to jump out and grab an unsuspecting woman who is passing by. Those and other similar myths are based on the assumption that sex offenders all “look the same,” so to speak, or that they fit a certain profile.

And for a variety of reasons, even some criminal justice professionals may seek to identify such a profile for sex offenders. For example, law enforcement agents may have the expectation that if there is a profile of the typical sex offender, it might be easier to identify suspects when incidents of sexual assault are reported and the perpetrators have not yet been caught. Some judges and other court actors may hope that a “sex offender profile” exists because it will make decisionmaking easier when these cases are brought to the courts. Still others, such as some treatment providers or some supervision officers, may hold onto the belief that there is a profile of a sex offender, because it will make it simpler to treat and supervise them. And finally, some professionals may believe that if there truly is a profile, we can identify persons who might be at risk of becoming a sex offender and therefore be able to prevent sex offenses from happening to begin with.

Use Slide #2: Who is the Typical Sex Offender?

Enlarge Slide 2

In reality, however, the research has consistently shown that there is no such thing as a “sex offender profile.” That’s because time and time again, despite attempts to identify a finite and specific set of characteristics that fits for all sex offenders, researchers continue to find that they are a diverse and heterogeneous population.1 So, although the label of “sex offender” might seem to suggest that individuals who commit these crimes are all alike, that is simply not the case. In fact, because they are such a heterogeneous group, it is sometimes difficult to discern how they are uniquely different from other types of criminals or from those of us in the general public, other than the fact that they have engaged in sexually abusive behaviors.

Do you believe that sex offenders are more similar to other community members than they are different? Why or why not?

Some people have a hard time considering the “similar to us” notion, because it may be easier—or even preferable—to believe that sex offenders are completely and totally different from anyone else, especially from “us.” But let’s remember what the victimization data told us about who these perpetrators tend to be: people we know, including our acquaintances and family members.

Dr. William Marshall, a leading expert in the field of sex offender management, highlighted this very issue in a piece entitled, “The Sexual Offender: Monster, Victim, or Everyman?”2 He suggests that in an attempt to separate themselves from sex offenders, people tend to overlook the other qualities and attributes of these individuals and define them only in terms of their abusive and harmful acts. He goes on to provide a brief review of the research literature, which suggests that sex offenders are a diverse group of individuals who may in fact be more similar to us than they are different.

Use Slide #3: Sex Offenders Come From All Walks of Life

Enlarge Slide 3

To illustrate that point, let’s talk about just a few variables:

As you have likely experienced in your work, there is no usual age that represents the sex offender—some are young, some are middle–aged, and some are more elderly. It does appear that, within samples of adult sex offenders, older sex offenders recidivate at lower rates than younger adult offenders.3 But we know that people of all ages commit sex offenses, and that a person’s age really doesn’t provide us any insight into whether they might be a sex offender.

Nor can any generalizations be made about where they are most apt to fall along the socioeconomic spectrum or social achievement spectrum. This is different from other types of crime, in which socioeconomic status or level of social achievement seems to be a risk factor.4

In terms of intellectual functioning or other functional status, we know that some sex offenders are exceptionally bright, others are “average,” and still others may have significant intellectual limitations. You are probably aware that professionals are challenged considerably to “keep up” with those offenders who are intellectually sophisticated and particularly skilled at manipulation and linguistics. In fact, you may have found yourself having a hard time trying to stay just one step ahead of an offender who seems to have great skill at outsmarting others. At the same time, these same professionals may be equally challenged with respect to how to best tailor strategies and interventions for those offenders whose level of intellectual functioning falls well below the average.

Although people might argue that an individual must be “crazy” to commit a sex offense, the reality is that most sex offenders are not psychotic or crazy in the truest sense of the word. Some sex offenders have mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, or other disorders, just as many people in the general public do. But that certainly doesn’t cause them to commit a sex offense.

What about gender? As you saw, although we know that females do commit sex offenses, the vast majority of sex offenders that come to the attention of the authorities are male.5

The bottom line is that none of these variables really shed any light on who is more likely to be a sex offender (with the possible exception of gender). People who commit sex offenses come from all walks of life, and in many instances, they often “look” very much like you or me.

Common Characteristics of Sex Offenders

At this point, given the known heterogeneity of sex offenders, some of you may be wondering whether sex offenders share any common characteristics that can be helpful for understanding their behaviors. The answer is a qualified “yes.” Researchers have examined multiple factors, traits, and characteristics of large samples of sex offenders, and they have found several issues that seem to be common, at least to broad groups of these offenders.

It is important to remember that not all of these issues are present in every sex offender. Nor does it mean that the presence of any of these variables—either alone or in combination – “makes” an individual a sex offender or necessarily causes them to commit sex offenses. Keep in mind that some of these features or characteristics can also be found in samples of other criminals, or within the general population, or even among some of the people in this room! But because these characteristics have been found in samples of sex offenders, experts believe that they may somehow be related to why individuals begin engaging in sexually abusive behavior, particularly when these factors interact with other variables and circumstances. And some, but not all, of these characteristics also predict reoffending among known sex offenders.

Use Slide #4: Commonly Identified Characteristics

Deviant sexual arousal, interests, or preferences

For decades, researchers have found that some sex offenders have interests in—or are aroused to—things that are considered to be outside the realm of healthy or appropriate sexual interests or behavior, including, but not limited to, the following:6

  • Engaging in sexual contact with young children or adolescents;
  • Having sexual contact with others against their will or without their consent;
  • Inflicting pain or humiliation on others;
  • Participating in or watching acts of physical aggression or violence;
  • Exposing oneself in a public setting; and/or
  • Secretly watching others who are undressing, unclothed, or engaging in sexual activities.

Either through self–report or through the use of certain types of physiological assessment instruments, the presence of some of these and other types of deviant sexual interests or arousal patterns can be identified. Some sex offenders may even prefer one or more of these types of behaviors over healthy, consenting sexual relationships with age–appropriate partners—hence, the term deviant sexual preferences. Because these types of interests, urges, arousal, or even preferences can be so strong, it is believed that they are a significant driving force behind the initial onset of sexually abusive behaviors for some sex offenders. Additionally, researchers have found that deviant arousal, interests, or preferences are linked to recidivism.7

Remember, though, not all sex offenders actually have evidence of these deviant interests, arousal patterns, or preferences. And there may also be people in the general public who have some types of deviant interests or preferences—but they may not ever engage in sex offending behaviors. Nonetheless, it is an important risk factor for sex offenders.

Cognitive Distortions or Pro–Offending Attitudes

Those who work in this field generally agree that sex offenders are aware that acts such as rape and child molestation are not only illegal but also harmful to others. Yet they engage in this behavior anyway. This is likely the result of cognitive distortions, or pro–offending attitudes. What happens is that sex offenders may tell themselves (and even tell others) that the behavior is not harmful or that it is less serious, or claim that the victim enjoyed the behavior or initiated the sexual contact, or they may come up with justifications for engaging in sex offending behaviors, such as believing that women deserve to be treated in these ways. In so doing, these self–statements give the offenders “permission” to do something that they know is wrong, and therefore they may not feel as badly about themselves for doing it.

The reality is that we all use different types of cognitive distortions to some extent. For example, we may make excuses for driving beyond the speed limit, for “cheating” on a diet, for smoking when one is trying to quit, or for engaging in any other behavior that is problematic, illegal, or otherwise unhealthy. That way, we, too, can avoid feeling guilty or badly about what we are doing. Put simply, the process of using cognitive distortions is not unique to sex offenders. The types of cognitive distortions that sex offenders use, however, are often related specifically to their own problem behaviors, including general antisocial behaviors or sex offending behaviors.

Not surprisingly, researchers have attempted to measure these kinds of cognitive distortions among samples of sex offenders, and have found that they are fairly common—and oftentimes to a much greater extent than they are found in other samples of criminals or the general public.8 Intuitively, it would seem that these kinds of self–statements that condone or support sex offending behaviors would increase the likelihood that someone would engage in this type of behavior. It also seems logical that cognitive distortions would be related to continued offending. And the research seems to indicate just that—pro–offending attitudes have indeed been found to be associated with recidivism among sex offenders.9

Social, interpersonal, and intimacy deficits

Another cluster of characteristics that seems to be fairly common among sex offenders involves problems in the social or interpersonal realm, with issues such as ineffective communication skills, social isolation, general social skills deficits, or problems in intimate relationships; and some experts believe that these characteristics have some role in the development of sexually abusive behavior.10 And a few of these issues, such as problems establishing and maintaining intimate relationships, are also associated with an increased risk for sexual recidivism.11

Victim empathy deficits

A specific interpersonal problem that is believed to be common to many sex offenders is that of empathy deficits. This concept is about putting oneself in another person’s shoes, so to speak, or the ability to feel what another person may be feeling. For some time it was believed that sex offenders lacked the ability to be empathic in general, although later it was suggested that their deficits were more specific to their victims.12 While it may not surprise you that victim empathy deficits are common with sex offenders, and that it may be related in part to how individuals are able to engage in sexually abusive behavior, you may be surprised to learn that this specific factor has not been found to predict recidivism among sex offenders.13

Poor coping or self–management skills

When looking at other descriptive research or literature about sex offenders, a lack of healthy or effective coping skills is often mentioned.14 For example, some offenders have difficulties managing their emotions appropriately, and some are highly impulsive and tend not to think carefully about the consequences of their behaviors before they act—or they may have difficulty resisting their urges from time to time. We all know that many people in the general public have difficulties managing certain emotions at times, and many of us can and do act in impulsive ways occasionally. So, although these kinds of problems or features are seen commonly among groups of sex offenders, it does not mean that they are unique to sex offenders. Nor does it mean that these kinds of variables cause people to commit sex offenses. Nonetheless, the research and literature does indicate that some of these factors—specifically emotional and behavioral self–regulation difficulties—may be part of what leads someone down the path to sex offending, and they are also associated with reoffending.15

Under–detected deviant sexual behaviors

Do you remember the data that we discussed earlier about the range and extent of deviant sexual behaviors that are previously unknown or undetected until after an offender discloses them during an assessment, polygraph, or through the course of treatment? That, too, is a common characteristic of sex offenders. In other words, the research suggests that the offense for which an individual is apprehended may not actually be the first or only abusive behavior in which he has engaged.16 I am certainly not suggesting that all sex offenders have hundreds of undisclosed victims and that they all engage in every type of deviant behavior imaginable. Rather, as I mentioned earlier, we need to acknowledge that for many sex offenders, there is often more to the story than initially meets the eye.

History of maltreatment

How many of you have heard that most sex offenders have been sexually abused themselves? This is an area that researchers have been interested in for many years with this population.

Indeed, returning to Dr. Marshall’s work for a moment, there are some who believe that all sex offenders are victims and, as such, they may even suggest that offenders may be less personally accountable for their own offending behaviors.17 As Dr. Marshall points out, however, the literature does not support the notion that all sex offenders have been sexually abused. Some have been, and some have not.

Among the studies that have examined childhood maltreatment (including sexual victimization) among sex offenders, there is quite a bit of variation.18 But there does seem to be a relatively high prevalence of sexual or physical abuse among samples of sex offenders. This seems to suggest that there may be some sort of relationship between having been maltreated and later engaging in sex offending behaviors, especially when other kinds of vulnerability or risk factors are present. But in and of itself, there is no research that supports the notion that it actually causes sex offending. And we know that there are many people who have been subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse during their childhood or adolescence, yet they never go on to commit sex offenses. You may also find it interesting to know that when researchers have attempted to explore recidivism among sex offenders based on a history of sexual abuse, no relationship has been found.19

Characteristics Associated with Sexual Recidivism

I’ve mentioned several times that some of these characteristics or factors are believed to be related to why individuals begin engaging in sex offending behavior. And I also noted that some of these characteristics have been found to predict reoffending—or sexual recidivism. So that you have a clear understanding of the kinds of factors that are related to recidivism, I will highlight them based on the kinds of factors that are static or unchangeable, and those which have the potential to change over time.

Use Slide #5: Key Examples of Static Risk Factors

Enlarge Slide 5

For example, among other factors, researchers have found the following static factors tend to predict sexual recidivism:20

  • A younger age of onset of sex offending;
  • Having prior convictions for sex offenses;
  • Targeting male victims;
  • Having unrelated, unfamiliar victims—as opposed to victims who are within the family or who are known to the offender;
  • The presence of deviant sexual interests, or preferences;
  • Being unmarried; and
  • Having an antisocial personality disorder, or the presence of psychopathy.

Use Slide #6: Key Examples of Dynamic Risk Factors

And in addition, among the kinds of factors or variables that have the potential to change over time, and which predict sexual reoffending, are the following:21

  • Problems with intimacy, or conflicts in intimate relationships;
  • Increased hostility;
  • Emotional identification with children;
  • Becoming preoccupied with sexual matters or activities;
  • Lifestyle instability and self–regulation difficulties, such as employment problems, impulsivity, and substance abuse;
  • Attitudes and beliefs that tend to support or justify criminal or antisocial behaviors; and
  • Demonstrating non–compliance with supervision or treatment expectations.

Summary: Interpreting Variability Among Characteristics

So, in thinking about some of these characteristics or traits, do you have a clear image for what a typical sex offender “looks like?”

Well, based on what we’ve covered—and perhaps based on your own experiences with sex offenders—many of you may be having difficulty envisioning the one set of characteristics and features that defines the prototypical sex offender and may be saying to yourselves, “There really isn’t a typical sex offender.” Which is precisely the point that I discussed earlier. Sex offenders are not all alike.

In fact, even though there are some characteristics that many sex offenders share, it appears that there may be more variability—and potential for differences—within the sex offender population overall than there are sweeping similarities. That’s part of what makes sex offender management such a challenge. So although there may be a desire to find the “magic bullet” for treatment, supervision, or even legislation that will fit for all sex offenders, the variability of the sex offender population as a whole makes that impossible.

Does this variability mean that our management efforts are a lost cause? Not at all! More apt to be the case is that different subtypes, subgroups, or typologies of sex offenders exist. And in the next section, that’s exactly what we’ll review. By attempting to identify these subtypes or typologies and the common characteristics or features within each of these subtypes, it may be possible to develop more tailored and effective approaches to intervention, rather than attempting to use a single, “one size fits all” approach to managing these offenders.

* * * * * * * * * * *



By F. Robert Radel, II


Will I know him when I see him? We now know the answer is a resounding "no." Until recently, when we heard the words sexual predator, an image of a dirty old man, dressed in a trench coat, lurking around an elementary school, appeared in our minds. Today, with ever increasing frequency, we have learned our mistake.

Sexual predators occupy various positions in our local communities. They have been identified as youth ministers, day care workers, boy scout leaders, babysitters, camp counselors, photographers, social workers, Big Brothers, school bus drivers and foster parents. These individuals have been welcomed in our homes and trusted with our children. They are both men and women.

In the media, sexual predators are commonly referred to as child molesters and pedophiles. However, not all child molesters are pedophiles and not all pedophiles are child molesters. A pedophile is an individual who prefers to have sex with children. If this person does not act out his sexual preference, he is not characterized as a child molester.

Unlike a pedophile, a child molester generally prefers to have sex with an adult, but for some reason, decides to have sex with a child. A child molester is an individual who sexually molests a child, for reasons such as availability, curiosity, or a way to hurt the loved one of a molested child.

There has been a dramatic increase in the filing of lawsuits against churches, schools and youth groups by victims of sexual molestation in response to abuse perpetrated by sexual predators. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for individuals involved in church, charitable and educational endeavors, as well as attorneys and claims handlers, and, of course, parents, to become familiar with the profile of a sexual predator.

This paper will generally identify and recognize common profiles of sexual predators, and, more specifically, will discuss their patterns of behavior and well-developed techniques of gaining access to child victims. The first portion of the paper will include information from a behavioral analysis report, prepared by Kenneth V. Lanning, formerly with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Behavioral Sciences Unit. The paper will later address two important cases decided by the Florida Supreme Court regarding clergy sexual misconduct and the separation of church and state.


In his report, Kenneth Lanning describes four major characteristics of pedophiles. They consist of 1) a long term and persistent pattern of behavior, 2) having children as preferred sexual objects, 3) a well-developed techniques in obtaining victims, and 4) sexual fantasies focusing on children. Lanning, Kenneth, "Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis," 3rd Edition (1992). Lanning points out that, although each indicator listed below, and contained under each of the four major characteristics, means very little alone, "their significance and weight comes as they are accumulated and come to form a pattern of behavior."

A. Long-term and Persistent Pattern of Behavior

1. Sexual Abuse in Background

Although most victims of child sexual abuse do not become offenders, research indicates that many offenders are former victims. Therefore, it is important to investigate a person’s background, including interviewing family members, friends and acquaintances to determine if the individual has ever been the victim of sexual abuse and to find out what the nature of the abuse was (i.e. the age it occurred, relationship with the offender, acts performed, etc.) Unfortunately, such in depth background investigation is generally impossible when screening potential candidates for employment situations.

2. Limited Social Contact as Teenagers

A deviant’s sexual preference for children usually begins in early adolescence. For that reason, during his teenage years, a pedophile may have exhibited little sexual interest in people his own age. Of course, as with several of the indicators provided, that fact alone means little.

3. Prior Arrests

In many cases, predators have been previously arrested for child molestation or sexual abuse. Such an arrest record is a major indicator if the arrest goes back many years or is repeated. Interestingly, however, Lanning also states that pedophiles may have arrest records that do not appear to involve sexual abuse. These arrests might include impersonating a police officer, writing bad checks, violating child labor laws, or other violations that may reveal the pedophile’s interest in children and, therefore, the potential need for further investigation. A thorough criminal background check is necessary to elicit any prior arrests and/or convictions.

4. Frequent and Unexpected Moves

Often when a pedophile is identified, they are "asked" to leave town by someone in authority, the parent of one of the victims or by an employer. This was, and still is, a common way to deal with the problem. Accordingly, pedophiles often show a pattern of living in one place for several years with a good job and then suddenly, and for no apparent reason, moving and changing jobs. The pedophile will usually have an explanation for the move, however, it will most likely not reflect the true circumstances. Most of the time, investigators will find no official record of what happened. Therefore, if possible, an investigator should try to contact neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances located in the person’s prior city of residence. The individual’s moving pattern can sometimes be determined from examination of driver’s license records or internet search results.

5. Premature Separation From the Military

At times, one may find that a pedophile was dishonorably discharged from the military for molesting children. However, it is far more common for this type of individual to be prematurely separated from the military with no specific reasons given or available. Like most organizations, the military was frequently interested in only getting rid of pedophiles and not necessarily prosecuting them.

6. Multiple Victims

Most of the time, pedophiles have victimized more than one child. Therefore, if only one victim is known and there is reason to believe that the sexual predator is a pedophile, it is more than likely that other victims may be present and could come forward on their own, or if questioned by law enforcement or investigators.

7. Planned, Repeated or High-Risk Attempts

According to Lanning, "Bold and repeated attempts to obtain children that have been carried out in a cunning and skillful manner" is a strong indicator that an individual is a pedophile. Oftentimes, the danger element of being apprehended excites the pedophile and, as he becomes more successful at gaining access to children in different ways, he begins to gain more confidence at his skill and, therefore, undertakes higher risk attempts.

B. Children as Preferred Sexual Objects

1. "Over 25, Single, Never Married, Does Not Date"

Although these indicators, by themselves, means nothing, they bear significance when combined with other characteristics of a pedophile. Often, pedophiles do not marry and have trouble performing sexually with adults due to their sexual preference for children. They may also have very little dating experience. However, a pedophile is still capable of engaging in sexual relations with an adult. For example, a pedophile may marry in order to gain continuous access to stepchildren and/or friends and acquaintances of the children in the home.

2. Lives Alone or With Parents

Of course, the fact that a man or woman lives alone does not mean that he or she is a pedophile. However, an individual that lives alone and who possesses many of the other characteristics provided in this paper should raise suspicions.

3. If Married, A "Special" Relationship Exists With Their Spouse

According to Lanning, male pedophiles that do marry often marry either "a strong, domineering woman or a weak, passive woman-child." Either way, male pedophiles most often marry women who do not have high sexual expectations or needs.

4. Excessive Interest in Children

Although it is difficult to determine if a substantial amount of interest shown to a child or children is excessive, Lanning states that the old adage "If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is" may apply. Of course, this may be difficult to determine if the pedophile is employed in a position in which he primarily deals with children, such as a youth counselor or child care worker. Evidence that the individual spends a great deal of time outside of work with children may be more indicative of a problem.

5. Young Friends and Associates

Many pedophiles frequently socialize with children and become involved in activities that young people are interested in. They often spend a substantial amount of time at schools, arcades, malls and other places that children frequent. Depending on the age and gender preference of the pedophile, they most often have friends that are very young or may be teenagers.

6. Limited Peer Relationships

Most pedophiles have very few close adult friends because they are unable to share the most important part of their life (their sexual interest in children) with most adults. Frequently, however, if a pedophile has a close adult friend, there is the possibility that the friend may also be a pedophile, since, as Lanning states, "Only other pedophiles will validate their sexual behavior." Again, speaking with neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances may elicit important information about the pedophile’s social relationships.

7. Age and Gender Preferences

According to Lanning’s findings, most pedophiles prefer children of a certain sex in a certain age range. He explains that pedophiles attracted to toddlers are more likely to molest boys and girls, indiscriminately, while pedophiles attracted to teenagers are more likely to molest either boys or girls, exclusively. However, most of the time, how old a child looks and acts is more important than the child’s actual age. Therefore, a pedophile who prefers children 8-10 years of age, may target a 13 year-old child who looks and acts like a 10 year-old child. Nevertheless, most pedophiles do not molest, or attempt to molest, children who have gone through puberty.

8. Refers to Children as "Clean," "Pure" or "Innocent"

Since pedophiles often have an idealistic view of children, it is common for a pedophile to refer to children by the adjectives provided above. On the other hand, some pedophiles refer to children as if they were "objects, projects, or possessions." According to Lanning, comments by pedophiles may include, "This kid has low mileage" and "I’ve been working on this project for six months."

C. Well-Developed Techniques in Obtaining Victims

1. Skilled at Identifying Vulnerable Victims

Although some pedophiles can observe a group of children for a short period of time and choose a target, many develop their skills in selecting victims through practice and experience. Most of the time, victims are from a broken home or have been emotionally or physically neglected. Children that exhibit signs of loneliness and seek attention are frequent victims. Often, children of low-income families, in which there may only be one parent present in the home, are targeted by pedophiles, especially if there is not a male figure present in the child’s life.

The internet is another vehicle where a predator can describe himself as a twelve year-old to a twelve year-old on the computer. The predator may then lure children, via the internet, to meet him.

2. Identifies with Children

Most pedophiles identify with children better than with adults. Typically, they know how to listen to children better than most other adults. As Lanning states, many pedophiles are described as "pied pipers" who attract children.

3. Access to Children

In order to gain access to children, most pedophiles place themselves in situations in which they can be around young people. Pedophiles may not only marry to gain access to children, as mentioned above, but may befriend a woman for the sole reason of getting closer to her children. In addition, a pedophile may become employed at a job where he will be in the presence of many children (teacher, camp counselor, photographer, babysitter). He may even become involved in a position where he can eventually specialize in dealing with children (minister, doctor, dentist, police officer, social worker). As Lanning mentions, "the pedophile may also become a scout leader, Little League coach, and so on." Of course, sexual abuse by many pedophiles in these positions have led to the increase in lawsuits against such institutions as churches, schools and charitable organizations.

4. Activities with Children, Often Excluding Other Adults

Another common characteristic of a pedophile is that he is always attempting to place children in situations where there are no adults present. For example, Lanning mentions that on a scout hike, a pedophile might suggest that the fathers go into town for a beer, while he will "sacrifice" and stay behind with the boys. Another example may be a pedophile "volunteering" to stay home and babysit or take the children to a Disney movie.

5. Seduces Children with Attention, Affection and Gifts

Lanning states that this is the most common technique utilized by pedophiles. They develop a closeness and trust through paying attention, listening and talking to children, when others will not. Buying gifts, such as toys, video games and candy is also part of the "seduction" of the child. This process is often referred to as "grooming." As indicated above, children from single parent, low-income families are often "easy" targets for pedophiles. Many of them have never had significant material possessions and are easily swayed by such things as gifts and trips to fun places that they have never been. Like most children, they crave attention and enjoy fun activities.

6. Skilled at Manipulating Children

Most pedophiles are very skilled at manipulating people, specifically children. As Lanning states, pedophiles use "seduction techniques, competition, peer pressure, child and group psychology, motivation techniques, threats and blackmail." Once a pedophile succeeds in lowering the inhibitions of a child, he can more easily take advantage of the child. Frequently, a pedophile will ask children to sleep over at his house so that the children will have to change their clothing at night and, therefore, will be more easily seduced. Oftentimes, sexual molestation at these "sleep overs" may take place with other children, or even the pedophile’s wife, close by. With others present, it not only provides the pedophile with a defense (i.e., how could anything have happened when there were so many others present?), but also adds a danger element to the seduction and abuse.

7. Engages in Hobbies and Interests Appealing to Children

As Lanning states, this indicator must be "considered for evaluation only in connection with other indicators." A pedophile may collect toys, have a strong interest in video games or perform as a clown to attract children. The pedophile may also pretend to be interested in activities, toys or games in which the target child shows interest.

8. Shows Sexually Explicit Material to Children

It is common for pedophiles to show children sexually explicit material in order to lower their inhibitions. As part of this seduction process, a pedophile may send a child a sexually explicit picture via a computer, allow him/her to view pornographic magazines, or encourage the child to call a dial-a-porn service.

D. Sexual Fantasies Focusing on Children

1. Youth-Oriented Decorations in House or Room

According to Lanning, "the homes of some pedophiles have been described as shrines to children or as miniature amusement parks." Oftentimes, a pedophile’s house will contain games, toys, posters and other objects to which children are attracted. Children will more likely want to spend a substantial amount of time at a house that has such attractions. They, as well as some adults, may think that the adult pedophile is just a big kid.

2. Photographing of Children

Although one might think that a pedophile is only interested in photographs of children undressed, Lanning indicates that it is common for pedophiles to enjoy viewing photographs of children fully dressed. He provides an example of a pedophile that bragged that he went to a rock concert with thirty or forty rolls of film in order to photograph young boys. After he developed the film, he fantasized about having sex with them. It is not uncommon for pedophiles to frequent playgrounds, child beauty pageants or athletic contests involving young children in order to take pictures of the children. With the invention of digital cameras, it is now possible for a pedophile to store and view his pictures on his computer.

3. Collecting Child Pornography

According to Lanning, it is very common for pedophiles to have extensive collections of books, photographs, movies, magazines, toys, games and other things that relate to children in a "sexual, scientific or social way." While most child pornography is used by pedophiles in absence of a child being present, oftentimes, a pedophile will show a child the pornography, again, in order to lower the child’s inhibitions. Lanning explains that a child who is reluctant to engage in sexual activity with an adult or to pose for sexually explicit photos can sometimes be convinced by viewing other children having "fun" participating in the activity. Pedophiles frequently organize and collect much of their pornography on their computers. According to Lanning, many pedophiles are "compulsive record keepers" and store and retrieve names and addresses of victims and other pedophiles. They also use computers to communicate with other pedophiles, in order to exchange child pornography, and to locate others, including children, with similar interests.


Sexual misconduct is not restricted to paid employees. A volunteer can be a child predator. Therefore, both future and current employees and volunteers should be required to complete an application. This application should include, at a minimum, the following information: the applicant’s full name; applicant’s full address; area of youth work the applicant desires; training/education in youth-related field; description of youth work at churches or other organizations for prior five years; description of church membership for past five years; description of church/youth volunteer work for last five years; prior felony convictions; prior criminal convictions for sexual abuse and molestation; and names and addresses of two or three references.

If the applicant is unknown by the church, school or organization, the entity should confirm the person’s identity by obtaining photographic identification. Each organization in which the applicant listed prior experience should be contacted and the conversation memorialized. Further, each reference listed should be contacted and the conversation documented. When obtaining the application and collecting information, materials and communications received should be considered strictly confidential. Child abuse reporting requirements should be provided to every staff member, whether the employee is compensated or not compensated. Finally, a mandatory child sexual abuse prevention program for employees and volunteers should be offered.

Unfortunately, churches, schools, and youth organizations are targets for child molesters, since they provide individuals with direct access to children. Therefore, the business or entity should consider implementing a policy that restricts eligibility for positions involving supervision of minors to employees, volunteers, or church members in good standing for a minimum period of time. If possible, select married couples as youth leaders, since it reduces the risk of sexual misconduct and can provide children with positive role models.

The organization should, obviously, follow common sense guidelines. Adult males working with youth should never be alone with a female member of the group. It is also strongly advised to always have two adults present with any child or group of children.

The organization should also be alert for warning signs of child molestation. Physical signs include: irritation, pain, injury to genital area; difficulty in urination; discomfort when in sitting position; torn or bloody undergarment; cuts or bruises; and/or nightmares. Behavioral signs include: acting out; withdrawal from church activities and friends; sexual self-consciousness; anxiety when approaching church playground or nursery area; nervous or hostile behavior toward an adult employee/volunteer; marked personality change; and/or a child who appears aloof or withdrawn. Verbal signs include: dislike of a particular youth worker; not wanting to be alone with a certain youth worker; a youth worker who plays roughly with a child; and/or a youth worker who likes to play alone with a child.

When an allegation of sexual misconduct is claimed, it should be immediately investigated. One person of the organization or congregation should be designated a spokesperson for the media. A statement should be prepared on behalf of the organization or church regarding the alleged sexual abuse. The church’s or organization’s policies and established safeguards should then be explained. The statement should advise that the allegation is taken seriously and the church or organization is responding in a timely and appropriate manner. The organization should never state "no comment." Finally, rather than blaming the alleged victim or minimizing or denying the allegation, the organization must react with concern and compassion by making counseling and services available.

By taking the proper safeguards to reduce the risk of sexual misconduct occurring at your church, organization, or school, both the reputation of the entity and the innocence of a child may be protected.


It can be expected that claims for negligent hiring and supervision against the employers of individuals guilty of sexual misconduct will continue. Therefore, it is important to understand the characteristics of pedophiles so that churches, schools and charitable organizations can be more aware of potential problems that may arise with regard to employees they hire who deal mostly with children. Additionally, attorneys and claims handlers should likewise familiarize themselves with the behaviors of the alleged perpetrator who is at the center of a sexual misconduct lawsuit.