It is tragic, unspeakable, and unacceptable for any child to be a victim of sexual abuse. However, one pattern we see far too often is a serial perpetrator like Chad Michael Geyen seeking out vulnerable children as victims. Criminals like Geyen know what kids they’re looking for, and they know where to find them. Chad Geyen found some of his vulnerable victims in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program, and others through foster care programs, where he feigned concern for the well-being and future of numerous children in order to gain access to them.
The Big Brothers and Big Sisters program is intended to provide vulnerable children with mentors they may otherwise never come in contact with in their lives. The children in the program often lack role models at home for any number of reasons. These children seek out adults who will act as a leader and example to them. Geyen was allowed to interact with these vulnerable children through that and other youth programs, and used that access to sexually abuse some of them. Geyen’s victims looked to him for adult companionship and mentorship because they were lacking it elsewhere and just like any animal he preyed on their vulnerability, seeing them only as “easy targets.”
There is a lesson that individuals and organizations need learn from examples like Chad Geyen and other sexual predators who seek out vulnerable and at-risk children. These criminals often mask their true intentions with the façade of caring and charity. The lesson is that those who set out with good intentions to help children must take on that admirable task in a responsible manner. We cannot blindly and irresponsibly trust any volunteer who comes forward to aid children in need, but rather must investigate and monitor those who regularly interact with children.
Well-intentioned organizations like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters must diligently monitor and investigate volunteers if the real goal is to truly protect children and foster a positive environment to nurture them. Who knows if Chad Geyen could have been stopped by better oversight? Who knows where the next Chad Geyen will turn up to prey on innocent children in need of a caring adult?