Child molestation is the physical or psychological act of harming a minor child by sexual means. The chief characteristic of such abuse is the position of the adult over the child; the dominance of the adult allows that individual to coerce and/or force a child into sexual activity. Studies by law enforcement and psychologists indicate that most individuals engaged in child sexual abuse continue to do so regardless of punishment; the effects on the children involved indicate a lifetime scarring.
Symptoms on the child
What a child can suffer as a victim of a molester can range from mild to severe, but in general the following are characteristics of a victim:
- Depression, fear (or fear of the opposite sex), or anxiety.
- Sudden clinging to parents or a loved adult.
- Sleep disorders, or a return to regressive behaviors like bed wetting and thumb sucking.
- Behavior or performance problems at school, and non-participation in social activities.
The strongest indication of sexual abuse of a child is sexual knowledge, interest, or acting out by the child. Such displays are simply not normal child behavior, and the best way to deal with it is to reassure the child as to his or her self-esteem, and give positive family support.
Laws and punishments
The current trend towards punishment of offenders has been longer prison sentences, and upon release mandatory registration as a sex offender. Legislation signed into law by President George Bush on July 27, 2006 mandates the requirement for offenders to update their whereabouts with law enforcement many times a year; it also provides for permanent incarceration of offenders deemed a continual threat to society. This law was named for Adam Walsh, the murdered son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh.
In Florida, individuals convicted of a sexual crime against a child under the age of 11 receive a minimum 25 years in prison, followed by electronic monitoring for the remainder of their lives when released.
Punishments often continue to be administered in prison, as child molesters are "marked" by other inmates for beatings or death.
The state of Vermont has come under fire recently for being a "safe haven" for child molesters who wish for lenient or no punishment for their actions. In one recent case, Judge Edward Cashman sentenced one such individual to 60 days in jail; the man involved, Mark Hulett, had molested a girl for four years, beginning from the age of 6.
Cases of child molesting
The earliest known cases of child molestation are the ancient Greeks, who invented the term pederast where an adult man has a homosexual relationship with a young boy.
- Sources differ as to Aisha's age at the betrothal and "consummation". 
Kenneth John Freeman, a former deputy sheriff from the state of Washington, allegedly raped his own daughter and had the event videotaped and posted on the internet. He posted bond of $50,000 in November, 2005, but fled the country before his trial date in March, 2006. He was arrested in Hong Kong on May 2, 2007, during an escape attempt in which he had learned that Chinese authorities were given information on him by United States Marshals, as well as a recent profile on America's Most Wanted. His victim has since become an advocate against child sexual abuse. 
The Roman Catholic Church has had a history of problems with cloistered child abusers among its clergy. While Pope John Paul II was seen in some quarters as reluctant to address the scandal, his successor Benedict XVI has publicly acknowledged the Vatican's mishandling of the issue. In a recent trip to the United States Benedict spoke before bishops at Washington's National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception:
"While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work...it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded by those who would cause harm."
Cases which led to murder
On April 20, 2007 Ted Lamborgine, 66, of Parma, Ohio, was sentenced by a Detroit judge to three life terms in Michigan for sexually molesting boys. Lamborgine and Richard Lawson, 60, were accused of operating a pedophile ring in Detroit during the 1970s and 1980s, often luring kids into sexual acts in exchange for candy, soda, food, and other items. Lawson, however, pointed the finger of blame at Lamborgine at another unsolved case: the notorious Oakland County Child Killings of 1976-77, in which four children were molested and killed in the county north of Detroit. Lamborgine had refused a prosecutor's deal in which 13 of the fifteen charges for child molestation would be dropped in exchange for a polygraph examination into the deaths. Lawson is currently serving a life sentence for murder.
Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl from Petaluma, California, was kidnapped at knife point on October 1, 1993, while hosting a slumber party at her home; she was later found strangled, and an autopsy determined she had been raped. Arrested in the case was Richard Allen Davis, who led police to the body. Davis had a lengthy criminal history, including burglary and kidnapping; the Klaas murder earned him a spot on California's death row.
John Evander Couey, a 46-year-old sex offender registered with the state of Florida, was charged with capitol murder, sexual battery, and assault on 9 year-old Jessica Lunsford, who was kidnapped from her home in Homasassa on February 24, 2005. Couey was assisted in evading police by family members with whom he shared a home, and indications are they may have helped him in committing the crime or covering it up. An autopsy determined Lunsford was buried alive, still clutching a stuffed blue dolphin that her father had given her. Couey's act helped pass "Jessica's Law", in which individuals convicted of a sexual crime against a child under the age of 11 would receive a minimum 25 years in prison, followed by electronic monitoring for the remainder of their lives when released. The law was signed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush on May 2, 2005.
Precautions against molestation
The United States' Stop It Now! Foundation recommends 'the four R's' to limit children's vulnerability in at-risk situations. These include:
Rules: discussing with your child the importance of rules for behaviour around others. (Note that this is not merely limited to 'stranger danger', but can be taught as 'circles of closeness'). An effective way to introduce this concept can be drawing your own diagram to show this (Mummy/Daddy, family, friends, strangers) and encourage them to create their own.
Respect: explaining why the rules are necessary - your child has a right to feel safe, but so does everyone else.
Responsibility: the hard part - teaching your child to follow these rules through reminders and encouragement.
Reading: encouraging your child's awareness of their social environment. Prevention is most effective when children learn to read the situation. If rules and a sense of self-respect are in place, your child is far more likely to let you know when they're troubled by someone's behaviour.
Organizations which promote child molesting
The North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is an organization which promotes homosexual pedophilia relations on young boys, and actively seeks the overturn of statutory rape laws. Specifically, they seek to change age of consent laws which require that a child be of a certain age (which varies by state) before they can agree to sexual intercourse. NAMBLA also engages in activities against law enforcement of pedophilia, and has stymied efforts of officers to effect arrests of wanted individuals worldwide; one famous case was Eric Franklin Rosser, a one-time keyboard player for rockstar John Cougar Mellencamp. Rosser was added to the FBI's most wanted list, as well as profiled on the television show America's Most Wanted, and was continually warned by NAMBLA members as to police efforts in locating him while on the run in Europe. He was finally captured in Bangkok, Thailand on August 21, 2001.
NAMBLA was defended by the ACLU in a $200 million civil lawsuit brought by the parents of a 10 year old murder victim; the parents claimed the killers were motivated by material accessible on the NAMBLA website.
- Authors unknown, "What is Child Sexual Abuse?", American Psychological Association, 2001. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "What are the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse?," American Psychological Association, 2001. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Author unknown, "HR 4472--Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006", Legislative Notice 49, July 20, 2006. Published by Republican Policy Committee (United States Senate), Senator John Kyl (R-AZ), chairman. Retrieved April 29, 2997. Requires PDF reader.
- Authors unknown, "Fla. Gets Tough New Child-Sex Law", CBS News, May 2, 2005. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, Light Sentence for Child Molester Leaves Vermont Judge Under Fire", Associated Press, January 12, 2006. Retrieved April 29, 2007, from Fox News Home.
- Authors unknown, "Catholic child abuse fears widen", BBC-Asia-Pacific, British Broadcasting Corporation, May 2, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "Ohio man given 3 life sentences for sexual assaults on young boys", Akron Beacon Journal, April 20, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "Lamborgine Receives Three Life Sentences", My Fox Detroit, April 20, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "'70s multi-child Murder suspect found and arrested", Digital Journal, December 11, 2006. Retrieved April 29, 2007
- Denise Noe, "All About Polly Klaas and Richard Allan Davis", Crime Library, retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "Killer of Polly Klaas sentenced to death", CNN Interactive, September 26, 1996. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Anthony Brune, "Jessica Lunsford child abducted and murdered by repeat sex offender John Couey", Crime Library, retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "Fla. Gets Tough New Child-Sex Law", CBS News, May 2, 2005. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Authors unknown, "Eric 'Doc' Franklin Rosser," America's Most Wanted, capture no. 680. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
- Deroy Murdock, No Boy Scouts: The ACLU defends NAMBLA", National Review Online, February 27, 2004. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
If anyone suspects someone engaged in child molesting, contact your local law enforcement agency, county sheriff, state or provincial police, or one of the following links:
- America's Most Wanted
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- FBI Field Offices page
- United States Marshals Service
- Metropolitan Police Service, London (New Scotland Yard)
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Australian Federal Police
- Database of sexual predators by state
- California Megan's Law
- Article by Dr. Madeleine Cosman on sexual predators illegally in the U.S.
- Charges against Eric Franklin Rosser, once a keyboardist for John Cougar Mellencamp
- Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
- Jessica Lunsford Foundation
- National Council of Youth Sports
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- National Foundation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse