Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders: Who They Are, HOw They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves And Our Children, by Anna C. Salter
There is a bit of tension in this particular book relating to its title. On the one hand, the author is clearly writing a book to seek to increase the safety and protection of children and other ordinary people from the threats faced by various sexual predators. Yet at the same time the author deals with grim reality, pointing out that total safety is a chimera (even if one can be more safe than one is), and that efforts at reducing the threat from predators themselves is difficult because few treatment options seem to work well on predators. This book is more about hardening the target and seeking to encourage people to be more suspicious and wary, and so take away some of that benefit of the doubt and implicit trust that allow predators so much easy access at present. It should be noted as well that the author views pedophiles strictly as those who are interested in or fixated on prepubescent children, not those who are interested, for example, in teenagers, although the author does comment some on the ways that teenagers can be exploited and taken advantage of as well.
This book is about 250 pages long or so and it is divided into eleven chapters. The book begins with a foreword by Gavin de Becker and acknowledgements. After that the author introduces herself and what interested her in the subject of predators from her own rural New England practice where she found abuse to be extremely common despite her total lack of study in such matters as a student. The author discusses the problem of predation (1) and then discusses the deception involved in abuse (2) and the techniques used by abusers to deceive others (3) and exploit the vulnerable. The author then gives specific discussion of her experiences with child molesters (4), rapists (5), and sadists (6), as well as psychopaths who fool people for the thrill of it (7). The author discusses staff seductions by people in prison (8) as well as the relationship between rose colored glasses and the much darker trauma influenced worldview (9). After this the author discusses the limitations that we have in detecting deception (10) despite our optimism that we are good at it, and then discusses how children and we ourselves can be protected from predators by deflecting sex offenders (11), after which the book ends with notes, a bibliography, and index.
It is obvious that a book like this makes for grim reading. The author is sometimes graphic in her discussion of what predators do and how they operate based on their own accounts, and also fairly explicit in noting her own occasional folly when it came to dealing with such people for the purposes of her research. The author notes that people are not good at recognizing deceit since those who practice it on a regular basis learn to suppress the signs of nervousness that trip up those who are not accustomed to behaving in an evil fashion, and seeks to shake people out of their complacency when it comes to recognizing and counteracting evils. The author makes some sound recommendations about how parents can help better protect their children by more supervision, less isolation and vulnerability, and providing fewer occasions (like sleepovers) where predators can operate with impunity. The author also recognizes the importance of bolstering respect for authority in overcoming the corrosive lack of trust that results from abuse and exploitation and has a lot to say about the trauma-induced worldview that people tend to have in the aftermath of predation. As the author notes, we live in a world where a distressingly large percentage of children grow up experiencing abuse and equally distressingly little has been done to address these concerns on a societal level.