PREDATORS IN OUR MIDST
By Bob Hamer
Author of ENEMIES AMONG US and THE LAST UNDERCOVER
This past week Amazon made headlines when it removed from its website a book offering pedophiles advice on having sex with children. Before reaching a corporate decision to pull the book Amazon issued a
statement: "Amazon believes it
is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe
their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or
criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make
their own purchasing decisions."
Amazon is the largest on-line bookstore in the world, and it seems obvious they had no intention of removing the book until a threatened pre-Christmas boycott of their website. The author, and apparently Amazon, believed a
readership for this material existed.
An unrelated story in late October about pedophiles and Facebook received minimal coverage but is also worthy of mention. It is certainly no secret sexual predators use the Internet to target children and congregate
with like-minded adults. With an estimated half-billion users who share more
than one billion files daily it should come as no surprise Facebook, the
world’s largest social network, has attracted sexual predators. In an effort to
protect our youth the website employs filters which automatically scan keywords
associated with the sexual exploitation of children. An investigation by
FoxNews.com revealed the filtering process failed to prevent child predators
from posting and sharing highly suggestive and possibly illegal material on the
To the credit of Facebook executives, they insisted a top priority was identifying and removing offensive and exploitive content…they didn’t try to hide behind a censorship or First Amendment argument. But I’m not
interested in debating the First Amendment, censorship, or corporate
responsibility. I’d like to discuss something I am hopeful you will find more
As a veteran undercover FBI agent, I successfully sold myself to many in the criminal underworld. My mission was always the same: to become one of them without becoming one of them. I was believed in my various
undercover roles, and a misplaced faith in my cover story landed many in prison
for lengthy government-imposed vacations.
In my twenty-six year career, my most difficult undercover assignment, psychologically and emotionally, was posing as a pedophile. Playing a contract killer, drug dealer, or international arms merchant was a milk-run by
comparison. I spent three years infiltrating the North American Man/Boy Love
Association (NAMBLA), a group of men sexually attracted to boys.
I believe most parents are more fearful of the predator next door than the terrorist half-a-world away. I frequently speak to groups and when discussing my NAMBLA infiltration I am often asked how parents can spot a
pedophile. They are rightfully concerned with identifying the person who would
buy the book recently available on Amazon or take advantage of the Facebook
I wish I had an easy answer. I wish I could provide a checklist which would positively identify anyone sexually attracted to a child. I’m afraid I don’t. I would, however, like to share some observations which may
prove beneficial to parents.
The target audience for the book pulled from Amazon, those joining the Facebook network, and most pedophiles I encountered in NAMBLA are “persuasion predators.” They are not individuals who break into bedrooms at
night, kidnapping a child for sexual pleasure. Their method of operation is
seduction. Referred to as “grooming,” these men use the same techniques a man
uses in the courting process only the object of affection is a child. Whether
in person or online, it starts with a look or a comment, a praise, an invitation,
and, if successful, a relationship.
In my face-to-face encounters and my correspondence with more than 150 NAMBLA members, I learned the men often targeted those boys seeking a father figure. They looked for the vulnerable child, typically the
boy from a single-parent household. Although I am sure there are exceptions, I
know of no boy successfully seduced by a NAMBLA member who came from a home
with a strong, loving, father figure. The membership typically sought the
single mom and more often than not the predators groomed the mother as well as
the child. These pedophiles wanted a situation in which the mother became
dependent upon the man for his companionship with the child. The predator
wanted the mother to believe his motives were pure so if the boy reported an
encounter the mother would dismiss it as a misinterpretation of the man’s
Some of the men I encountered enjoyed the grooming process almost as much as the sexual conquest. One target of our investigation, who received a well-deserved thirty-year sentence, admitted to me while I was
undercover he molested between sixty to seventy boys and groomed more than two
hundred. Others talked of offering free babysitting or taking the child on a
camping trip or allowing the child to spend the night when the mother worked or
went out for the evening. The developed trust caused the parent to believe her
child was in safe hands.
As a Marine I was taught many acronyms which served as memory aides for battle orders, leadership principles, training guidelines. It worked. It’s been more than thirty years since I was on active duty, but I
remember the acronyms and the principles.
Allow me to leave you with an acronym…ACT.
It may not be a failsafe approach to protecting your child but it can reduce the chances of success for a persuasion predator.
A is affirm. Affirm your child. A child, who believes he is loved, who believes he is valuable, is less likely to seek affirmation from others and fall for the seducing comments of a sexual predator. I recall a
poster years ago which read, “God made you and God doesn’t make junk.” I
repeated that phrase often to our children as they were growing up.
C is communication. Talk with your children. Let them know you value their opinions. When our children were young we often played a game at the dinner table called “I Spy.” We would ask them what they “spied” that
day. It may not have been a life-altering observation, but it reinforced in our
children the belief they could talk to us without fear of being ridiculed.
Their opinions and observations mattered. A child who believes the lines of
communications are open isn’t as likely to seek companionship from just any
adult who will listen and praise. If something inappropriate happens the child
knows he or she can talk to you about the incident without fear of being
dismissed or ignored.
T is for trust. As Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” My intent is not to make you paranoid as a parent, locking your kids away until adulthood. But trust your feelings as well as your children’s feelings. If an
adult is paying too much attention to your child or making inappropriate
comments, listen to that inner spirit telling you something isn’t right. Listen
to your child. The reason she doesn’t want to sit on Uncle Harry’s lap may be due
to Harry’s bad breath, but it may be Uncle Harry said or did something which
made her uncomfortable. Don’t force your child to sit on Harry’s lap or give
him a kiss. Respect your child’s wishes and discuss with her outside of Harry’s
presence why she chose to react the way she did. Trust but verify!
Although I’m not a big believer in statistics, studies show one in four girls and one in six boys are molested during childhood, more often than not by a relative or close family friend. These are persuasion predators
playing upon inherited or developed relationships to satisfy their basest
Remember…as a parent if you don’t ACT, those people who bought the Amazon book or networked on Facebook might! Start to ACT. It’s not too late.
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