Predators 'very aware' how to lure kids, child psychologist says
May 31, 2018 06:53 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A registered sex offender previously convicted in Arizona remains behind bars after authorities accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 13-year-old Albuquerque boy.
It all started when the two began communicating in an online video game chatroom, according to police. For the 13-year-old boy, the conversation with 35-year-old Stephen Johnson was allegedly more than just small talk about video games.
"If you are missing something in your life, you tend to seek it out," said Kate Bunch with Traumatic Treatment Center in Albuquerque.
Days into the two communicated, police say the young teen asked Johnson to be his boyfriend and Johnson agreed. But Bunch says Johnson knew what he was doing all along.
"Children who experience potentially sex abuse or just a lot of significant toxic trauma as children, when they grow up they don't function the way we would expect them to as an adult," Bunch said. "But they are very aware in how to hook in a child who they potentially want to take advantage of."
Police say the two times they met, Johnson had long conversations with the teen before engaging in sexual acts with him.
"They know the experience and they know what will work," she said.
Bunch said a teen's brain won’t fully develop until they’re into their mid-20s. For the alleged victim in this case, that potentially means not fully understanding the consequences of his actions.
But could there be more happening in the home?
"Was this kiddo really educated around sex and relationships and expression of sexuality," Bunch said. "Was his homosexuality accepted in the home?"
The key, Bunch said, is knowing what your child is doing. In this specific case, police say the father of the 13-year-old boy did not know his son was in the presence of a convicted sex offender. Even the son knew as police say Johnson told him he was on probation for the same crime in Arizona. When the father found out, police were immediately called.
Bunch said this case could’ve been worse if the father had not found out. She said in situations where these interactions go unnoticed, a teen's mental, physical and emotional health can be compromised.
Regardless of the circumstances, Bunch emphasizes the need for parents to talk to their kids and communicate the dangers of chatting with strangers online.
"The parents could be amazing parents who are super involved and really aware and monitor social media and all these different things and sometimes kiddos they just make bad choices in the moment,” she said.
Video game experts said Wednesday that parental settings on video game chatrooms are the best way to protect your children from harm, along with monitoring who they chat with and which chatrooms they're in.
Updated: May 31, 2018 06:53 PM
Created: May 31, 2018 06:46 PM
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