8 On Your Side Investigates: Inside a mind of a female predator

Debra Lafave's mugshot.

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – She’s Florida’s most talked-about teacher. She was deemed too pretty for prison, but she’s too infamous to ignore. Everyone watched the headlines as 23-year-old Debra Lafave went through the judicial system after having sex with a 14-year-old boy.

Now 34-year-old former Tampa school teacher was one of the most googled people on the planet when she was arrested. She is hardly alone in the state of Florida when it comes to female predators making headlines. The number of young women with deviant desires, arrested for sexually abusing boys, seems to be a part of an alarming trend. We hear the headlines all the time. They seem to happen every week; women are in the news for sexually abusing children. What goes on in the mind of a female predator?  They are dangerous people, and most likely they are in a position of trust.

SLIDESHOW: Tampa Bay teachers accused of sex crimes
SLIDESHOW: Tampa Bay teachers accused of sex crimes

“A female predator has usually experienced some kind of abuse and her past, especially in the preteen years, when she’s becoming a woman,” says licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner.

She has treated both victims of sexual abuse and the predators themselves. She tells WFLA that there are two major things in common with all these women have. They have usually experienced sexual abuse at a young age and they have low self-esteem. They obsessively crave and cultivate unhealthy, often illegal relationships. They want affection, attention and admiration.

“A young boy looks up to them. They get something from that,” says Dr. Scheckner.

So, who are these women? Who are these female predators? They are mothers, teachers and executives, some of them you would not even expect.

“The people that have the most influence on kids can sometimes be the most dangerous,” says Karina Stong, executive director of The Rachel Project, which battles sex trafficking and sexual abuse with children. Karina has dedicated her entire life to keeping kids safe and educating them. “We try to explain things to children and to keep it simple, so that we can protect them and prevent the abuse from ever happening.”

As for Debra Lafave, the mother of two boys lives in Ruskin as a registered sex offender. If she had been convicted, she would’ve faced up to 30 years in prison.

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