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There will always be pedophiles. We have to arm our children with self-esteem and body knowledge. I don't know how the mother of that 4-year-old girl raised a child who disclosed her alleged abuse ("Timonium church volunteer charged with sexual abuse," Dec. 9), but she must have done something very right; disclosure during childhood is rare. That is one of the reasons why we have to scrutinize the people with whom our children interact.

Many people still cling to the myth that they'd be able to spot a pedophile: he's the one in the bushes or on the other side of town, in a different church or in raggedy clothes. No, sexual abusers can live in Homeland and dress elegantly. They can live down the hallway. Abusers can be "naturals" with kids and volunteer endless hours for children's activities. They can be highly educated or illiterate, teenagers or, yes, women. They look just like us.

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That is why we have to fight against our collective denial and keep our inner radar working overtime. We need to know the behaviors of sexual abusers and of sexually abused children. We need to support the treatment of children with sexual behavior problems so they might not grow into abusive adults. With awareness, vigilance, and candor we can begin to protect our children. That is the responsibility of every adult. We have to guard our flock.

Emily Samuelson, Towson

The writer is a licensed psychologist.

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