Online Conference Transcript
Debbie Mahoney Her former next door neighbor molested her son. Since then, Debbie has devoted her life to keeping children safe. She is the Founder and President of the child protection group, Safeguarding Our Children - United Mothers (SOC-UM). She has a new book out called "Innocence Lost."
David HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts and I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators". Our guest, Debbie Mahoney, is author and founder of the child protection group Safeguarding Our Children-United Mothers (SOC-UM), which is a site inside the HealthyPlace.com Abuse Issues Community. We'll be discussing why children are at risk, what are the behavior indicators of an abused child, how do you report child abuse, and the most important safety tips you need to know -- BEFORE anything bad happens to your child.
Debbie's son fell prey to her former next door neighbor, and since 1996, Debbie's devoted her life and personal resources, and a lot of her energy, to protecting children. She also just came out with a new book called "Innocence Lost," which goes into more detail about some of the child abuse issues we'll be discussing tonight.
Good Evening, Debbie and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being here tonight. How old was your son when he was abused by your former neighbor?
Debbie: Thank you for having me. Brian was between the ages of 10 and 12.
David: So, this occurred over a two year period. Did you have any idea what was going on?
Debbie: No. I had no idea. If I knew, I would have stopped it. Like most children, Brian did not disclose the abuse.
David: How did you find out?
Debbie: I found out because the perpetrator belonged to the group NAMBLA, a pedophile ring and there was a perpetrator in prison who gave up Jonathan Tampico's name. They did a search on his house and found a project that Brian and I had worked on. They found the school project and the police called me and that's when Brian disclosed.
David: So, I'm sure it came as a complete surprise to you, and an unpleasant one at that. I say that because I'm sure that's the situation most parents find themselves in -- after the fact.
Debbie: It was horrible. It's one of the worst nightmares a parent discovers. I was overwhelmed with guilt because I didn't know the child abuse was occurring.
David: Since tonight's topic is on "prevention," as you look back now, and it's been several years since this abuse happened, what do you think about?
Debbie: There were signs that something was wrong and I didn't know what those signs were. I attributed those signs of child abuse to other things, such as puberty, and just being a boy. But there were signs that abuse was occurring, which is why I'm a proponent of educating children.
David: You mentioned there were signs that abuse was occurring to your son, what are the warning signs that parents should be aware of?
Debbie: There are a variety of warning signs of child abuse. Behavioral indicators such as anger, chronic depression, poor self esteem, lack of confidence, problems relating with peers, weight change, age inappropriate understanding of sex, frightened by physical contact or closeness, unwilling to dress or undress in front of others, nightmares, change in behavior, going from happy go lucky to withdrawn, change in behavior toward a particular person, suddenly finding excuses to avoid that person, withdrawals, self-mutilation.
It's important to remind people that any one of these signs of child abuse can be attributed to something and they should seek help through a mental health professional.
David: We, the general public, tend to think that child molesters are a certain "type," seedy people who can be easily spotted. Maybe that comes from TV and the movies. Is that a true portrayal?
Debbie: No. People who are child molesters are usually in a position of trust. They can be teachers, coaches, lawyers, police officers, family, friends. Child molesters are good at manipulation and are not wearing trench coats. The statistics for child sexual abuse are as follows:
- One quarter of children sexually abused are abused by a biological parent.
- One quarter of children are sexually abused by stepparents, guardian etc.
- And one half of children are sexually abused by someone that the child knows.
So three quarters are abused by someone other than the biological parent, but someone that the child knows.
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