One of my preschool teachers was arrested for being a child molester.
In college, I came across a post on Tumblr urging people to report an Instagram account. I thought it would be something stupid, because people on Tumblr are characteristically overdramatic. When I went to see it for myself, my stomach dropped. It was video after video of children being abused.
After I graduated, my family learned that my uncle had been molesting my cousins for years.
In 2017, I read a story about an 8 year old Pakistani boy gang raped on an abandoned bus by Heroin addicts.
The year after, I read a story about a guy at an elite university at the head of an anti-rape organization who tried to arrange sex with a 2 year old.
I think that was the year someone tried to kidnap my teenage sister and kid cousin while they were walking to the store.
But before that, there was the story of the newborn raped, who would never be able to have children.
I remember sitting in a meeting with someone who worked with an anti trafficking organization, and him saying that most pedophiles preferred 10 year olds because they still visibly looked like children but their orifices could be more easily penetrated.
Then I read a story about a tech reporter who tried to arrange sex with a young boy and a young girl.
At Christmas last year, I learned that someone I had grown up with and gone to church with had molested his niece.
This year, I learned of a 5 year old whose mother sold her for sex to settle a debt. Her daughter’s rapist murdered her, and her response was “he was only supposed to have sex with her.”
Normal, good people want to think this problem is far away from them, or some kind of “blip” in the system. Normal, good people don’t really want to think about this problem at all. Even after encountering so many examples of this evil on the internet and even a few times in my personal life, I didn’t want to think about it. But the problem is right in our backyards, and not just at malls or amusement parks. It’s in our churches, at our cookouts, and at our weddings, funerals and birthday parties.
People have this idea in their heads that pedophiles are easy to identify. But pedophiles are everywhere, hiding in plain sight.
If you had told me I personally knew not one but two pedophiles, I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue who you were talking about. There was nothing about these men that would have made me think twice, or question who they were behind closed doors. And I can’t help but wonder how many other pedophiles I know that haven’t been caught yet.
I know no one wants to think about this, because it’s a problem that none of us can solve. But the longer we ignore this because it’s unpleasant to think about, the worse it will get. And before you know it, you’ll find yourself or your loved ones affected because you didn’t want to think it could happen to you.
Every time I read a story or learned something new about the scope and severity of pedophilia, I felt more and more helpless. These children were having their innocence ripped away from them, and they were being preyed on by people that should have been protecting them. And there was nothing I could do to help them.
But since then, I’ve learned of two organizations actually making a difference, and rescuing vulnerable, abused children from the hells on earth they’re living in.
Operation Underground Railroad was founded by a DHS special agent, and sets up stings that have led to the rescue of 4000 human trafficking victims.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children filters and analyzes content on the internet and coordinates with law enforcement.
I’m imploring anyone and everyone to donate to these organizations.
I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to make adults stop molesting kids. But there are things we can do to protect kids and get them out of danger. We have a responsibility to child victims and the children in our lives to fight this with everything we have. There is no community immune to this. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like or how much money you make. These predators are everywhere, and so are their victims. The longer you ignore this, the sooner you’ll wish you hadn’t.