Do you think you would be able to tell if a sexual predator was using deceptive “grooming techniques” to gain access to your child?
In many instances, the red flags can practically be under our noses. Yet often, parents who learn that their child has been victimized will share the same reaction… “I had no idea… He was so nice… He didn’t look like a molester.”
FACT #1 – A predator doesn’t look like the “boogeyman.”
If they did, it would be easy to stay away from them. Child molesters are cunning experts at deception. If they weren’t, they’d never get away with their despicable acts.
FACT #2 – Molesters are typically NOT strangers.
In fact, 90% of the time, they have a relationship with their victims and the family.
FACT #3 – They use deliberate tricks and ploys to gain a child’s (or our) trust.
That’s their first step. Once they’ve accomplished that, they can proceed with their second step, which is to sexually victimize their target.
Who Are They?
Relatives, a family friend who spends a lot of time at your home, a married neighbor or co-worker, cousins or older siblings, the ice cream man, that nice old man who lives next door and seems so harmless, the soccer coach or teacher who takes such a special interest in one particular child, above all the others. Someone who works very hard at arranging “alone-time” with your child, making it seem like they’re doing you a favor!
What Do Sexual Predators Look For?
A vulnerable target – a child in need of some extra attention or affection, or one who seems shy and lacking in confidence, sometimes a child who is more of a loner or in need of friendship or guidance.
An opportunity. For example, at social gatherings, most adults will chat for a few minutes with the kids, and then turn their attention to the other adults for conversation, etc. But if all the grown-ups are in the kitchen, and “Uncle Bob” always prefers to stay in the living room with the kids playing “Twister”, pay attention to that red flag.
How Do They Do It?
By using the things that kids love as bribes or gifts. Toys, video games, computer gadgets, extravagant gifts.
“Mom and Dad can’t afford to get you that new Wii game? Come on over to my place, you can play with it here.”
“You’re not allowed to watch a certain TV show at home? You can watch it at my house, with me!” A child molester is an expert at relating to kids, speaking their language, and working very hard at being “one of the gang.”
What’s The One Thing That Deters A Child Molester?
The fear of being caught. If a molester thinks your child won’t “keep the secret” or sees that you’re a visible parent, involved in your child’s daily life and activities, he will often move on to an easier target – one that will be “safer” for him!
DOES THAT MEAN I CAN’T TRUST ANYONE??
No one wants to go through life distrustful of everyone. And you don’t have to. But smart parents know that there are certain red flag behaviors that are usually present when someone is “grooming” a child for their own devious purposes. It’s our job to be aware and alert to certain behaviors in those who interact with our kids. If you or your child become aware of the following red flags, do not allow “one-on-one” alone time with that person. By recognizing these tricks early on, we can intercept the grooming process BEFORE it feeds itself into actual molestation.
Red Flag Behaviors And Warning Signs
1. Someone who repeatedly ignores social, emotional or physical boundaries or limits.
2. Someone who singles out one child as a “special friend”, lavishing them with a lot of extra attention, gifts, flattery – developing an age-inappropriate relationship with that child.
3. Someone who often insists upon or suggests a lot of uninterrupted “alone” time with a child.
4. Someone who refuses to let a child set any of his or her own limits.
5. Someone who insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want this physical contact or attention.
6. Someone who shares inappropriate personal or private information with a child, that should normally by shared with adults only.
7. Someone who frequently points out sexual images or tells inappropriate, suggestive stories or jokes with children present.
8. Someone who seems overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen, and talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body.
9. Someone who appears to be “too good to be true”, frequently offering to baby sit different children for free; taking children on special outings alone; often buying children gifts or giving them money for no apparent reason – especially an adult who does not have children of their own.
10. Someone who frequently walks in on children/teens in the bathroom.
Author Bio: Pattie Fitzgerald is a Certified Child Predator Safety Educator and founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. teaching parents and children everywhere non-fearful “safe-smarts”. For more info., please visit www.safelyeverafter.com.