It is important to know that child sexual abuse happens when we give sexual predators access to our children. One scary thing, yet it’s essential to know, is that sexual perpetrators will work in positions or position themselves to be with children. Think about who are people that have access to children? Team coaches, trainers, educators, teachers, daycare employees, nannies, and babysitters. But then there are those groups of individuals that go unseen like family members, siblings, cousins, and friends of the family.
The best prevention toward child sexual abuse is being aware of who has access to your children and to be vigilant of the behaviors of those individuals that spend time with them. To protect your child, there are different things that we parents can do to help them. We first learn and know that perpetrators seek to groom children and, at times the parents as well. But what does the grooming process look like? The following is the grooming process explained.
Who is the target? Predators target vulnerable children. Children that demonstrate low self-esteem may have a mental disability or a child that may have an obedient/compliant personality.
Trust Foundation - The perpetrator will make an effort to build a trust foundation with the child through special attention and at times with gifts. If you see that an individual repeatedly complimenting your child more than other kids or compliments them on their physical appearance, this is a definite red flag. Throughout the trust gaining process, it is normal for him or her to offer to do favors that will include being near your child.
Creating Dependency - Perpetrators manipulate their victims by making them feel like they are the only ones that understand them. If you hear your child mention that another individual understands them more than you, that’s a red flag.
Getting the Child Alone - If someone offers to take your child to and from school or activities, or perhaps provides to take your child on special outings or offers private lessons, these are red flags that they are trying to get your child alone. When the perpetrator is a family member, then this individual will try to find ways to be alone with the child and will sneak into the child’s bedroom when others aren’t around.
Secrecy - The perpetrator will create a sense of confidentiality with the child. He or she will tell the child not to tell anyone about their relationship. They may create a secret game that no one should know about. Perpetrators are observant, and they can tell what kind of relationship the child has with the parent to determine how to communicate with the child without parents finding out.
Sexualization - If you hear your child talking about sexual activity or information relating to sex that you have not taught your child, this is a red flag that someone is exposing them to sexual content or activity. If someone invites your child to sit on their lap continually or touches your child more frequently than normal, there too are red flags.
Overall, perpetrators will demonstrate the following behaviors:
They seem incredibly interested in your child.
They engage in an unusual amount of physical contact with children.
They volunteer for anything that involves children.
They have special bonds with children.
They enjoy the company of children more than the company of adults.
But what happens after you’ve detected one or more of the red flags mentioned above? You must voice your concerns to the individual and set boundaries or alert the authorities, depending on the severity of the circumstances.
Furthermore, the most essential component towards child sexual abuse awareness and prevention is being well-educated on the topic and red flags, and being a present, vigilant parent. If perpetrators sense that you are an involved and attentive parent and do not allow your children to go unsupervised, then they’ll be less likely to be deterred.