"They are good and they can identify kids that are more vulnerable, who may not have that someone they can turn to and talk to or are in search of a parent figure or father figure or mentor.
-Lynn Ayers, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center
Who can be molester?
"It's anybody, male or female. There's not a classic profile, it can be anybody," said Lynn Ayers, executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center.
It's a scary thought, but the most trusted person in a community, the most trusted person in your child's life has the potential to be a child molester. In fact they may have spent years earning that trust, waiting for that perfect moment.
"They are good and they can identify kids that are more vulnerable, who may not have that someone they can turn to and talk to or are in search of a parent figure or father figure or mentor. They study those kids and identify those that are more vulnerable and start grooming process with that child and the family as well." said Ayers.
Ayers says there are signs that the trusted family friend may be grooming you. They often take the form of a savior to the family.
"I think they present themselves as a resource to the families, maybe it's someone who could watch your child, maybe it's someone who can take them to class or game, somebody who can help out if you're short on the electric bill one month or help get the bike you need for x-mas and they become everyone's best friend. They provide resources and support that maybe wouldn't have otherwise, it's setting the family up to trust the person as someone valuable, helpful, kind and caring."
That's exactly what happened to John Doe when he was 13.
"The older perp started grooming the family in building up trust then turned to groom me in buying ice cream and fishing trips, things you do with friend. This guy was in 50s. Later it was apparent he spent time with young people."
John Doe said he was a loner, that's why he thinks he was targeted, he was looking for a mentor and instead was taken advantage of.
Does that mean parents shouldn't trust anyone? Not necessarily, says Ayers, but parents shouldn't trust every situation.
"I go back to trusting your gut about opportunities that might be presented to kids to be alone with somebody, most child care or youth serving agencies have routine policies about transportation. There won't be one on one time, most agencies have safeguards in place so when you are seeing opportunities or seeing things that don't feel quite right then I think you have to question int and ask authorities."
John Doe agrees, "It's not an issue of trusting less, it's about being more aware and keeping our kids out of situation where they would be vulnerable. Once you learn that someone is taking effort to isolate themselves with a young person I don't see any occasion where that's appropriate."
One on one time is the key factor according to both Ayers and John Doe. It's never appropriate and it's almost always the biggest sign that something more is going on.