The Child Sex Offenders Around You: What Prevention Steps Can You Take?

Police arrest a 54-year-old ballet instructor on suspicion of multiple counts of child molestation.

According to the county deputy, a female student under 14 years of age reported that the ballet instructor had sexually assaulted her multiple times.

At the time of the instructor's arrest, he had been teaching at a school for the performing arts in Daly City, California for the past eight years.

Parents of children enrolled at the school were in disbelief. One in particular spoke of how much her daughter loves the school and that the students had "great" teachers. Stephen Ellison and Jean Elle, "Bay Area Ballet Instructor Arrested on Child Molestation Charges,", (Jan. 29, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. every year. Approximately 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way because the offender is a family member or teacher, coach, youth group leader, pastor, or other mentor.

Safe adults must be vigilant as to the behaviors of every adult in children’s lives. Too often, a respected coach or teacher takes advantage of his or her position of respect in the community and uses it to have private access to children.

To help prevent child sexual abuse, whose who work with or around children, as well as parents, should be aware of the following:

  • Sexual abuse is a crime and will not be tolerated.
  • Everyone should be vigilant as to the behaviors of everyone in the organization and community.
  • Prohibit one-on-one, private interactions between adults and children. If private interactions must take place, they must be done in a location that would permit anyone to observe the conduct or interject themselves without notice.
  • Specify what types of communication are appropriate between adults and children.
  • Prohibit employees from showing favoritism, including providing gifts to, or spending more time with, a student or certain students.
  • Train everyone who interacts with children on your organization's behalf as to what constitutes child sexual abuse and their duty to report it.
  • Do not allow adults working with children in a building to be in a door with the room locked. Use room doors with windows so that passersby can see into the room at all times. Consider an "open access" policy.
  • Landscape the physical premises so that all areas are visible and there are no concealed places where perpetrators could carry out abuse.
  • Watch for inappropriate interactions between children and take immediate action to stop any peer-to-peer sexual abuse or harassment.
  • Document all monitoring activities, any inappropriate behavior witnessed, and follow-up actions.
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