Ask parents how they determine whom to trust with their children, and they’ll probably struggle to put it into words. Some go by a gut feeling. Some instinctively assume others—especially other Christians—are trustworthy until they somehow demonstrate that they are not.
But many of us have learned firsthand how our intuitions can be way off. In my life, people I didn’t think twice about proved to be morally questionable, even dangerous. According to Henry Cloud and John Townsend, the popular Christian therapists and authors of Safe People, our inability to judge character leads us to welcome “destructive people” in our lives.
I recognize this can be an unsettling possibility for us to discuss, especially as parents, but it’s important we consider that even people who appear safe and friendly can threaten our families. Take the latest example in the headlines: smiley Subway pitchman Jared Fogle, who has been charged with (and agreed to plead guilty to) having sex with minors and possessing child pornography. In recently released recordings, Fogle describes approach to luring children into sexual relationships with him.
Anna Salter, a clinical psychologist and an expert in treating sex offenders, explains that most people find it easier to believe that someone experienced an “aberration” of character, as opposed having planned and plotted to victimize children. But more often than not, the reality is the opposite: Like Fogle, most sexual predators set up and plan out scenarios of abuse. More than 750,000 registered sex offenders live in the United States, and that doesn't account for those whose crimes have not been discovered.
Among these offenders are people ...1
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