For the last few decades, safety advocates have been trying to warn kids about “stranger danger.” Children are warned that they should never talk to or accept rides/candy from an adult they don’t know. These well-meaning warnings are an effort to prevent child abductions and child sex abuse.
While this is good advice, it ignores an important and uncomfortable fact about child sex abuse. In the vast majority of cases, victims are not abused by a stranger but by someone they already know. And in these cases, children may be reluctant to report the abuse because they have been “groomed” by their abuser over time. The story of one alleged abuser’s recent arrest highlights how sexual predators often manipulate their victims.
Earlier this month, a 31-year-old youth golf pro was arrested in California. Police believe that over a period of about three years, he may have sexually abused several of his male golf students who were between the ages of 12 and 17. The investigation started when one of the alleged victims reported the abuse to the police.
An area police officer involved in the investigation noted to news reporters how the defendant likely groomed his victims. The officer said: “He befriended them as the cool coach, gave them rides to and from practice and bought them gifts, including top-of-the-line golf equipment. He created a coach-athlete bond and, as he did, was figuring out who he could get away with” sexually abusing.
A recent news article also mentions that the coach sometimes showed his victims pornography. Giving victims access to adult things like pornography, alcohol and drugs is another way for abusers to both gain their victims’ trust and keep them from reporting what happened. Children are often worried they will get in trouble if they tell.
It is both devastating and frightening whenever parents learn that a trusted role model for children is actually a child molester. But because this is such a common scenario, parents need to be especially watchful.
Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Popular Bay Area youth golf pro charged with 65 counts of child molestation,” Natalie Neysa Alund, Dec. 11, 2013