Not everyone thinks theme parks are the happiest places on earth. Parents of children might find it uncomfortable to learn that the people in the costumes at theme parks, those working on rides, and escorting guests through the resorts might be pedophiles on the prowl.
In several To Catch A Predator-style stings, police in Florida have recently arrested a number of Disney employees for child sex offenses. CNN conducted an investigation that found at least 35 Disney employees have been arrested since 2006 for sex crimes involving children. Some were caught with child porn on Disney property. One, a Disney World employee who oversaw ride repairs, was arrested when he arrived at a house thinking he was going to meet a 14 year-old girl. Instead he was arrested.
Just last month employees of Disney and Universal were arrested when they too showed up at a house planning to meet children. One was a concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, who thought he was going to “fulfill a fantasy” with a 14 year-old boy.
The arrests are documented in detail by CNN and paint a frightening picture of the people who have access to hundreds of thousands of children every day. http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/14/us/theme-park-employees-child-sex-stings/index.html
The predators are particularly dangerous because parents often feel that theme parks are among the safest places for their children. Many parents who would never allow their children to go someplace without their supervision freely encourage their kids freely walk these parks. But the risks from sex offenders is often greater at those venues because the pedophiles know that children will be there, and often are less aware of risks and more trusting of adults and, in particular, employees at those parks.
Pedophiles tend to be smart and manipulative, making them more insidious and dangerous to our kids. The fact that dozens of Disney employees have been charged with child sex crimes does not mean that the problem is limited to Disney. Many other theme parks and similar amusements are attractive to pedophiles. Parents must remain vigilant and speak openly with their children about the risks and what is and is not acceptable. Unfortunately today’s social media and electronic communications afford the pedophiles new tools that 20th century child abusers did not enjoy.