As shocking as the are the recent news events in our area, it is important for people to know that child predation and predation in general is not isolated. Predators may be monsters, but they look like normal people and, at risk of sounding like a 50’s movie, “They Walk Among Us!”
Predators hide behind a mask of acceptability and resist taking responsibility. They can come from any kind of home. Religious homes are not immune because there are “religious” homes in which the parents abuse their children and very much do **not*** walk the walk of compassion, integrity, and kindness of their faith. Research also tells us that in some cases, there seem to be those who are born without conscience, and who frighten and horrify their own parents with their awful behavior, from early childhood on. And these are good, loving, and well-meaning parents.
Some common characteristics of those who prey on children, women, the sick, aged, and vulnerable are a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, a need to control others and actual pleasure at harming them. They make excuses, blame others, and have a complete lack of conscience. Many may seem successful and highly motivated, but if you pay attention, you can hear the empty place and self-loathing randomly pop out. The Virginia Tech student who killed the 13 year old girl had been a high school track star. I watched a video of an interview with him during his high school days. In the midst of bragging and more bragging, there was a sentence that spoke of his internal state. “There is no reason,” he said, “that I cannot be as good as other people.” What does that tell you?
May we see and hear clearly and teach our children to do the same. Not everyone is as he or she appears. We must not close our hearts, but also we must use our common sense, sense of self-preservation, pay attention to our intuition, and never assume that the other person is working on our same set of principles. Parents need to teach their kids that trust is earned over time and through observation. Parents also need to demonstrate they can be trusted, so that kids have a point of reference and go forth with both confidence and discernment.