News 5 Investigates: Female sex offenders

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — In February, two women have been arrested for sexually abusing minors. On Feb. 5, WKRG News 5 brought you the story of Hayley Hallmark, a former Ruckel Middle School teacher charged with having a sexual relationship with a student. On Feb. 16, Katrina Puri was charged with sexually abusing a young child. Research shows women make up a small percentage of sexual predators.

Research into sex offenders historically mostly focused on men. The Department of Justice reports the first articles on female sex offenders didn’t even appear until the 1980s.

WKRG News 5 sat down with Mobile Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Andy Wynne. He said, “All the research indicates it’s probably 10 percent of the perpetrators are women.”

When it comes to female sex offenders, there isn’t too much information. The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a medical journal saying: “Women are usually portrayed as victims and as being passive, innocent…”

It continues describing how traditional gender stereotypes can make it difficult for people to imagine a woman as a sex offender.

Wynne said, “The vast majority of kids that are abused know their abusers. It’s over 90 percent that know their abusers.”

It’s not always the stranger danger our parents warned us about. Wynne said abusers can be anyone from a close family friend, to a relative, or even an instructor. He said children living in single parent families are 20 times more likely to suffer abuse. He said, “And it’s not saying that single parenting is bad, but it really talks about how much people need to be involved. If you’re working constantly, you’re doing that, you can’t be that involved in the life of your child.”

Wynne listed a few things parents should look out for. He said, “If you see some real behavioral changes with a child with them withdrawing, stress, grades plummet, whatever some negative indicators, it really is time to get more involved and start asking questions.”

Wynne said children typically wait about one year to report abuse which can lead to a lot of harm.

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