What are signs of grooming?
Adults who sexually abuse children usually appear to be incredibly trustworthy and unfortunately, you cannot tell by looking at someone if they would sexually abuse a child. Most adult perpetrators “groom” the child and family by gaining their trust. They spend time with the parents in order to gain access to their children. Most abuse occurs when the abuser has one-on-one time with the child.
These are all “red flag” behaviors and should cause you to pay special attention to this adult. Most importantly, trust your gut. If someone feels “off” or a situation seems strange, or too good to be true, it most likely is. Do not be afraid to take steps to protect your child and your family.
And if you were sexually abused by someone in your family, please do not allow your child to be vulnerable to that person. If you work with children, do not be afraid to report suspicious behavior by a co-worker to your supervisor. People who sexually abuse children rarely get caught and even more rarely, recover.
Pay attention to who has access to your children
You need to be very aware of who has access to your child, anyone who pays special attention to them or arranges one-on-one time with them. This is why it’s very important to have safety conversations with your children from an early age so they can tell when an adult breaks a family rule about safety.
Do children sexually abuse other children?
About 40% of the time, children are sexually abused by other children. This occurs for a variety of reasons such as: they have been sexually abused themselves, they have been exposed to pornography, have been neglected in some way, are confused about appropriate boundaries, and many other issues can be influential. It’s important to remember that a child who abuses another child needs help and is not inherently evil, wrong or bad.
How can I protect my child?
Talk openly about your family safety rules.
- Download the “Super 10 Rules for Safety” and review them with your kids.
- Trust your gut if someone seems dangerous.
- Trust your kid’s gut if they don’t like someone, even if it seems like it’s for “no reason.”
- Tell your children that “every adult and older kid knows it’s not okay ask a child to look at or touch their privates.”
- Talk to them openly about sexuality.
- Remind them that sex is not for kids – it’s for later in life! – and that every adult knows this.