Children fear monsters and they believe they live in the dark waiting for them. Parents check the closet and under the bed to reassure that there are no monsters.

Monsters are real, but they aren’t always in the closet and under the bed. They may be strangers, your neighbors, your friends and your family. These monsters are sexual predators.

The last time a major campaign against sexual predators was in the 1960s with the incorrect “stranger danger” campaigns. These campaigns only addressed the smallest part of sexual predators, the strangers, and didn’t recognize the majority of sexual predators, the familiar faces.

According to the DOJ SMART (Department of Justice Office of Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking), in 2010, 25 percent of the female victims of rape or sexual assault were victimized by strangers. This means that in 2010, 75 percent of female victims of rape or sexual assault were by friends and family.

We need to start educating parents and children on the red flags sexual predators have and methods of grooming used on children. All it would take is a few pamphlets and a couple classes offered by local schools targeted at parents. It won’t stop all cases, but hopefully it will save a couple of lives. The education system and parents are children's first line of defense. Let’s step it up and educate ourselves about the dangers in our community.

Sincerely,

Isaac Blazek

Wyndmere, North Dakota 

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