Predators Are Telling Children “You Are Special.” Why Aren’t Our Communities?

The most powerful three words of a child predator are: “You are special.”

When a predator tells a child she is “special,” he is using the ultimate con, filling a huge void in a vulnerable child’s life. This grooming behavior allows a criminal full access into a child’s psyche to make it easy to sexually abuse the child. This behavior has been seen in almost every Catholic Diocese in the United States.

The story is replaying in college sports, where powerful men at Syracuse and Penn State have used their positions of power and fame to prey on children whom they also called “special.”

Now, new victims are coming forward: Hollywood’s former child actors. Surprising? No. These are children who have listened to powerful people tell them since infancy, “You are special.”

Alison Arngrim of “Little House on the Prairie” fame was one of the first former child stars to speak publicly about being sexually abused and advocate on behalf of other victims. Repeatedly molested by her brother, Arngrim found help early in life and now devotes her career to speaking out for others.

Since November, showbiz crimes have exploded in the media. A former “Sesame Street” composer, a child talent manager, and a casting agent for child actors have all been exposed as predators. In fact, one predator told authorities, “What they were doing was common practice in the entertainment industry.”

Corey Feldman is the latest child actor to come forward to tell his story of abuse. He won’t reveal the name of his predator.

Why the prevalence and secrecy in Hollywood? The same reasons abuse flourishes in the Catholic Church: Attitude, Fear, Cover-up and Power.

Director Roman Polanski pled guilty in 1977 to drugging and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. He then fled the country. Despite this, Hollywood has come to Polanski’s defense. Writer Gore Vidal went as far as to call the victim a “hooker.”

Polanski is still working, and actors are begging to star in his films. Would a working child actor tell anyone if Polanski abused them? Not if they wanted to ever work again.

Like in the Catholic Church, Hollywood’s children are disposable and replaceable.

But it’s the cover-up is the most insidious.

When Hollywood keeps silent about allegations of abuse, the veneer of the silver screen and television remain untarnished. The public can pay big money go to the movies, subscribe to cable, buy endorsed merchandise and believe in the illusion. We all ache to believe that the children on the screen are safe.

Just like Catholics ache to believe that if they put money in the collection basket, their children will be safe from abuse.

We have lost too many in young Hollywood and the Catholic Church to suicide, drugs and anguish. Our children are not disposable, and it is time that both the Catholic Church and Hollywood respect and cherish our greatest asset.

Photo of Corey Feldman from the Warner Bros film “Lost Boys:The Tribe” from Flickr user thirteenthbat under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. This is unacceptable.

    There has to be a way to stop predators permanently.

    No more slap on the wrist sentencing.

    No more second chances.

    They are murderers of the soul.

  2. Judy Jones says:

    Being the oldest of 11 very catholic children, we were never told that we were special. We were always a GROUP…In fact I remember craving for someone to tell me that I was special.

    My younger brother was told that he was special by our parish priest who sexually abused him… This predator priest made him feel special and loved.

    How sad…

    But I think that is why as a mother, I was constantly telling my 3 children that they were special.. It worked, because they are special to this day.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511

    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

  3. Sister Maureen Paul Turlish says:

    Excellent piece Joelle and you are correct.

    “Predators Are Telling Children ‘You Are Special.’ Why Aren’t Our Communities?”


    We say, “children are our future,” “are precious to us” so on and so forth but even though we say all this and even have a United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, if those “Rights” aren’t spelled out and protected from the top down, from the UN Convention down to the state level in this country it’s all just talk and we have been getting a lot of that in states across the U.S. lately as proposed legislation has been defeated in states like Maryland, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

    “Communities” have to put their bodies, time and money on the line and get better legislation passed to hold both predators and enabling individuals and organizations accountable.

    Right now Pennsylvania has a chance to do right by victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, those from the past, the present and the future by doing whatever it takes to move PA Rep. Ron Marsico to release House Bills 832 & 878 so they can be discussed in the House Judiciary Committee which he chairs and into larger discussion in the PA House itself.

    Remove ALL Statutes of Limitation criminally and civilly going forward – HB 832


    Provide a TWO YEAR CIVIL WINDOW for bringing forward previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse, no matter who the predator may be.

    Call Rep Ron Marsico, fax him and e-mail him to get the job done!

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

    Advocate for Victims & Legislative Reform

  4. Thank you! It is the courage of Joelle and many thousands of other victims of abuse and their families that are publicly telling a story to the world. Yet, the most rich and powerful, with the authority and ability to act on behalf of protecting all children, adults, families and employees, via strict enforcement of mandated reporting laws in place for decades or corrective legislation similar to California’s 2003 Sex Abuse Law, refuse to take action.

    Truths are now available in criminal and civil court files throughout the world only because of the most wounded in our society. I cannot remember when a victim of childhood sex abuse was publicly honored with a prestigious award, i.e., The Vatican, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, NCAA, Pulitzer, Noble Committee, Times Person of the Year, etc. Without the courage of childhood victims of sex abuse and their public outcry, the dirty crimes that destroyed lives for decades would have continued at a much faster pace. Yes, the pace is slowing down — but it has not stopped. Still lots of work to do!

    It is time to incorporate the stories and crimes against children and families in educational history books, to ensure that our children will break the cycle of abuse when they become adults. We can name the school books, “Government Leaders & Enablers”, for grades 9 – 10. I can guarantee our children could relate and learn from adult mistakes of the past. The United States of America is the most generous and greatest country in the world; yet, many elected officials are too busy building their political portfolios playing games involving who will be the winners, Red – Blue states, Republicans – Democrats, and/or just bashing our country’s elected President Obama, 24/7.

    The right to due process of the law is guaranteed in the United States; however, there is no existing law that ENABLES anyone to hurt a child and/or destroy the lives of individuals making a choice to seek justice in a court of law, free speech, press or opinion. ENABLERs aid and abet crimes against humanity and deserve to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. This is a serious public safety crisis!

    California’s 2003 Sex Abuse Law returned civil justice to victims of past sex abuse crimes facing expired civil statutes of limitation. Criminal and civil court files in California reveal tragic and horrific facts; yet, the State of Delaware solely followed California’s example…. shame on all who pretend to practice religion, the teachings of your chosen Church or the laws of moral decency. Just remember, you continue to get rich and powerful because of the guaranteed freedoms in the United States of America. The least you can do is protect our children, their children, grandchildren, and children for generations to come.


    • “The United States of America is the most generous and greatest country in the world.” There are many who would disagree with your statement, and how blindly patriotic it was. America is a “developed” nation that is so corrupt the poorest and most disadvantaged struggle to afford medical care, that is no generosity its a nation soaked to the bones with greed and oppression.

  5. “They are murderers of the soul.”

    How nice of you to tell abuse victims that they no longer have a soul. I’m an abuse victim and I don’t think my soul has been murdered.

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