top of page

Child Sex Predators: A 4 Step Process

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

The recent story exposing the abhorrent assaults of children by priests in Pennsylvania once again brings to the forefront child rape. Many do not like the word “rape” but prefer the term molestation. Calling it rape or sexual assault is apparently harder for many people to accept than to use the watered down, inaccurate terms molestation and/or abuse.

The intent of this article is to present realistic information which will heighten awareness and our ability to protect and support children, for the reality is they cannot protect themselves. Have no misconceptions, child sex predators have the power to harm and utilize a systematic 4 step process to manipulate and coerce a child.

"Make no mistake, this behavior is an assault on a human being by the use of power and control. It is a rape of a child’s body and mind."

Historically the focus has mostly been on the response by the church through denial, using aggressive legal tactics to quash, to relocate suspected offenders and to continue to create the illusion the church is working to end this crime. We rarely see a survivor centered focus through educating parents and the public about who the offenders are and how they gratify their need to rob children of their innocence.

The BEHAVIOR of child sex predators

First, understand his behavior is not a rare occurrence fueled by impulse, rather it is a planned act that can take weeks or months to achieve. It is quite common for him to be violating several children during the same time period while grooming others for the future. Who is this man?

He generally prefers young boys. He is usually well liked and trusted by people within the community because he is such a “nice guy.” He is too helpful, too attentive to children, too concerned about what people think of him, too touchy with children, too superficial, too charming, and too opportunistic. He puts himself into situations where he can have access and time to evaluate potential targets. Youth coach, teacher, clergy, doctor, are but a few of the professions they gravitate towards. Why is he getting away with it?

It is unlikely that a child sex offender- a pedophile- has an arrest record because his victims rarely report, due to fear, confusion, self-blame and the attitude that no one will believe them. The pedophile is an addict whose drug is having sexual power over children. Imagine the many creative ways he can put himself around children. Picture a youth minister, priest, or coach that everyone likes and trusts. Now learn the dynamics of how a child sex offender gets away with it.

Child sex offenders: A 4 Step Process

  • His assault sequence involves a clearly defined four step process. The first step is called Target Selection. Approximately 70% of these predators prefer young boys. He is in an environment with children so he can pick and choose, hunting for the ones he feels he can “score” with. Once a potential target has been selected he evaluates and grooms the child.

  • Step 2 is Evaluating if the child will eventually trust without telling. He is extremely nice, attentive, complimentary and above all sees that the child craves his attention. He will spend time cultivating the relationship gaining more trust, while learning about the relationship with parents, his needs, perhaps secrets. At this stage in the process the predator will be creating situations where he can be alone with his intended target. In these moments alone he will be testing his choice by slowly engaging in inappropriate language and behavior. Does his prey confront, and if so can the predator easily explain away the behavior?

  • If there is little or no resistance he will eventually escalate to step 3, the overt Sexual Violation. The child is conflicted while being intimidated by the position of power the predator has over him. Guilt, shame, betrayal, helplessness and fear are but a few of the emotions the child will feel during and after each violation.

  • The 4th and final step the predator engages in is called Termination. The goal here is to leave the child feeling as though no one will believe their story, that they want this and the price of silence is to continue being in the predator’s favor. The success of the predator cannot be overstated. It is very rare for the child to ever tell and if they do, most often it can be years later after they have endured the psychological aftermath to the point where they cannot remain silent.

Unlike other sexual predators, this predator will continue his behavior generally for the rest of his life unless caught. To help children, we need to be attentive and proactive. All too often we are passive bystanders making excuses for the predator and being skeptical of the target. Never assume someone is trustworthy when relating to our children. Drop in at practices, church functions, etc. Observe and be involved.

* * *

Please: Talk with your child and create an environment where they can disclose their feelings. Above all, listen and believe. Do not deny, make excuses and minimize. Tell authorities if you suspect someone is targeting children. Report offenders, press charges and support those who do. Though we will not be able to change this predator it is possible we can limit his ability to harm children. For more information on bringing No Zebras to your community, contact us here


bottom of page