These days visiting the Hamptons talking to my American friends I realized that many parents over here have what I believe is an unreasonable fear that their own children may encounter child molesters. I am a father of four children and one of the frequent concerns of a parent is that when you are on a busy street or a shopping mall, your kids may get lost in a crowd. How do you prepare your children for these stressful situation? My instructions to them have been to memorize their full names and address, to memorize my telephone number or their mother´s and if they ever get lost to look for other parents with children or go into a shop and ask the attendant to please call us. But during conversations with my American friends I learned that most kids in this country are told not to talk to strangers even in emergencies like these. When I enquired more about the reasons for this I realized that the main fear of American parents, unlike say Argentine or Spanish parents, is not that their child may encounter a thief or even a kidnapper who may want ransom for their children but that they may encounter a child molester. I read some statistics on this subject and found some interesting data. For example 19% of American heterosexuals believe that “most gay men are likely to molest or abuse children”. Personally I think that the chances that a gay or straight person who a child chooses to call his parents is a child molester is extremely low. Moreover some literature shows that most child molesters are not strangers but people who are close to the child or know the child. But if in Spain or Argentina we don´t worry much about child molesters I wonder if there much more child molestation in America than in Latin countries or are Latin countries under reporting this serious problem. How is it possible to find studies that say that one America woman in five is molested before the age of 18? In Punta del Este, Uruguay, where I grew up, 15 year old boys and girls, to young to drive, hitchike to move around the around. My kids do it as well. And we are talking about upper class kids as Punta del Este is the Hamptons of the South America. But in the Hamptons where I am now this practice is extremely rare.
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