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Parents are warned of molestation risks

Among the deputy's advice: Be vigilant and keep the lines of communication open.

Published June 8, 2005

LEALMAN - Prompted by recent abductions and the slaying of Jessica Lunsford, as well as reports of sexual offenders and predators living in the area, the Lealman Community Association invited Deputy Denise Nestor of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit to last week's meeting.

The statistics she gave were stunning:

--One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before reaching adulthood.

--The average molester of girls will have 50 or more victims before being caught and convicted.

--The average molester of boys will have more than 150 victims before being caught and convicted.

--Some molesters victimize as many as 300 children during their careers.

--About 74 percent of abducted children who are murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction.

That information is why the Lealman Community Association asked Nestor to offer tips to keep children safe.

"I teach children and adults personal safety," Nestor said. "I prefer to teach parents about their children's safety. That way, they can practice the strategies you learn here tonight."

Teaching kids about safety is great, she said, but "their attention is limited to: "Is that your gun?' (or) have I ever shot anyone?"

Nestor said adults rely too much on kids' protecting themselves. The parents, she said, have to take a big role.

"Women take better care of their purses than they do their kids," she said.

Part of watching out for kids is to eliminate the opportunity. That means not leaving children unattended, even in their own back yards.

"Those days are over," Nestor said.

It also means not bringing home dangerous men. Many pedophiles, she said, get to know the mothers in order to get to the children.

Parents should also be careful about letting others know their routines. Nestor gave an example of a woman who met a man in a bar.

Through casual conversation, he found out she jogged daily. He said he also jogged, and then asked what she did with her keys while running. She replied that she did not take keys with her, but left her back door open.

Children also need to be told about the "friend of the family" and to tell their parents if anything happens.

Parents also need to understand things from a child's viewpoint, Nestor said.

It is one thing to tell a child to stick close when in public, but small children do not look up. They look at pants. So a parent needs to be sure to tell kids to remember to look for the color or design of pants he or she is wearing.

And a parent should warn children to go to the checkout counter and talk to a cashier if they get lost. People can pose as store guards, Nestor said, but it's hard for someone to stand at a cash register and pose as a cashier.

[Last modified June 8, 2005, 06:35:32]

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