How to Protect Your Child
What Child Molesters Can Teach You About Keeping Your Child Safe
Research indicates that one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused. Child safety is our responsibility as adults, not a burden that children should shoulder by themselves. Fewer than 10% of child victims report. Worse still, 52% of child molesters surveyed reported that, when the children did tell, they were able to “talk the adults out of calling the police.” After that, most molested more children.
As adults, we need to talk to children about sexual abuse and offender behavior. Sexual abuse starts with a relationship. Offenders gain the child’s trust and friendship. Offenders are clever. They talk to the child about or expose the child to sexual behavior or pornography. If the offender is sneaky enough, the child will not feel uncomfortable. Most children don’t tell because they get tricked into thinking they went along with it or caused it. Simply put, children are no match for offenders if the offender is older, more manipulative, or able to control the situation.
Unless parents or caregivers have talked to them, children may not know that what is happening is wrong and the more it happens, the harder it is to tell. Offenders tell children that people won’t believe them, will be angry at them, or will be hurt by the disclosure. They are convincing and children believe them.
The overwhelming majority of child abuse victims are abused by someone they know and trust and their parents would never suspect. Only you can protect your child. Educate yourself and your family about child abuse. Don’t let a child molester do it for you! COMMUNICATE. LISTEN. BELIEVE.
Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
Every child is different. Just like an adult, a child may exhibit many types of behaviors when exposed to a situation. Some children that are abused may exhibit some of the following behaviors:
- Adult-like sexual behavior, language, or knowledge.
- Mimics behavior with toys.
- Has new words for private body parts.
- Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games.
- An older child behaving like a younger child (thumb sucking or bedwetting).
- Sexual promiscuity.
- Self-destructive behaviors (suicide attempts, alcohol or drug use, self-injury).
- Changes in eating habits.
- Refuses to talk about a shared secret with an adult or older child.
- Suddenly has money, toys, or gifts without reason.
- Develops new, unusual fear of certain people or places.
What Sex Offenders Say About How Easy It Is to Entice Your Child
- Who am I? I am the ideal husband, wife, uncle, aunt, sibling, relative, coach, neighbor, co-worker, church or school colleague; a person you think you know well, but you don’t. My spouse or significant other never suspects me. If I am a parent, I have already isolated and victimized my kids. Their friends and other kids in the family are candidates for future abuse. I may be intelligent, educated, stable, respectable, tax-paying, and employed. I am someone that you and your children like and trust; making it hard for your child to tell you what I am doing to them. I am someone who likes children and I am sexually aroused by them. I am someone who hides on the Internet and waits for your child.
- How I Gain Access It’s easy. I pay attention to your child’s likes and interests and make them feel special. I appear trustworthy and helpful. If you are a single parent, I present myself as a positive influence. I baby-sit and volunteer to help with children’s activities. I am very vocal about my hatred of sex offenders and talk a lot about what should be done about them. That makes me look reliable, but I am not.
- What I Do I confuse them by saying, “All families do this,” but I know they don’t. I make it look like an “accident, a mistake, or a misunderstanding.” I take advantage of their curiosities about sex by telling them salacious stories and dirty jokes and acting like they are my equal. I show them pictures and porn. Once I start, I will be able to maintain their cooperation and silence by making them feel responsible for what I am doing, and making them think that you will not believe them. I warn them that they will be the one who gets in trouble. I may threaten them. I isolate them by making it fun, so we can be together, alone. I tell them that they will be put in foster care and they won’t get to see you, their family again.
- What Sex Offenders Say on How You Can Protect Your Child Tell your kids it’s never okay for someone to touch them, or for someone to ask to be touched inappropriately. It’s not okay to look at others’ private parts, or show theirs to others. Teach your children about their bodies and that it’s not okay for others to secretly touch them. Talk to them and trust them, not me. I often point out your child’s lying or questionable behavior to build my credibility and destroy theirs. You help me without knowing it. Be suspicious when I, as an adult or older teen, want to spend a lot of time with your much younger children. Watch for signs of sexual abuse, but watch my behavior even closer. Don’t tell them that what I do is a sickness or a disease. Explain that it’s my selfishness and illegal. Teach them that if they can’t tell you, to tell another adult that they trust, such as a teacher or another relative. Learn who your child’s friends are and meet their families. Trust your gut. If you think something is wrong, follow that instinct. Be watchful and pay attention to what’s going on. Make it safe for your child to tell you things and establish trust with them so that I can’t entice them.
- Important Things to Know “If you find out I have abused a child, because the child tells you, believe them. Children lie to get out of trouble, not into trouble. They have probably told you only the tip of the iceberg. If you confront me, I will talk you out of making the call and continue offending. Don’t argue with me, just make the call. If you talk to me first, I will do whatever I can to keep you from doing the right thing. I will tell you that it was the first time. I will promise to never do it again and say that I am sorry. I will promise to get counseling. What I really mean is that I’m sorry I got caught. If you don’t make the call, I will not get the help that I need, and it will be your fault. Yes, I might go to prison, but I deserve it. Do not feel sorry for me. What I have been doing is criminal and children will be safer with me behind bars. Hold me accountable. Don’t ever let me be alone with your children again! It will be my fault if I re-offend, but it will be your fault, if you let me.”