It is both illegal and immoral for any adult to engage in sexual activity including touching a child in any sexual way and constitutes child molestation. It is well understood and accepted that a child is NOT in a position to give consent thus any type of involvement with a child in this way is a crime.
Identifying and catching child molesters is very difficult for several reasons. First, child molestation incidents are often very subtle and for many children they may not even be aware that they are being abused. Also, children may know something isn’t right or even the way they are being treated by an adult is, in fact, wrong, but they can feel very guilty and ashamed of what is happening and they do not want to tell anyone. In other instances, a child may feel they did something to make it happened and are worried they will be in trouble or may feel they cannot get the adult involved in trouble for a variety of reasons. In many instances, the child is coerced or manipulated into not telling their parents, any other adult or peers about what going on. In some cases, the child can be threatened with something awful happening to them or someone they love if they tell. Other child molesters have gone to great lengths to know what will keep the child from telling such as giving them money or buying them expensive presents.
Although this is a devastating and very stressful situation for parents to think about, there are ways to help your child and protect them from child molesters. The following tips may seem simple but they can prepare your child should they find themselves in a situation where they need to understand what to do.
Listen to your child, pay attention to what they tell you about ALL the adults in their lives~Pay attention to what your child says about the people and activities while away from you, whether it is about their friends or homework or anything that your child finds to be important. You can detect changes in their life. Sometimes the clues are subtle such as a person being featuring in conversations unlike before but they do provide information that requires follow-up.
You’ll know when your child’s coach, piano teacher or family member comes up more in conversation and perhaps in a bit of a different way than you are used to. You may also pick up that someone is spending more time with your child or you see your child having gifts or other advantages because of this individual compared to the past. In other cases, what your child doesn’t say can be louder than what he or she does talk about. Seemingly, out of the blue, they don’t want to go and participate in a favorite activity any more or have a noticeable mood change either before or after spending time with a particular adult in their life.
Teach your child some signs of behaviour or characteristics often shared among child molesters~An adult that prefers children’s company is one sign you can look out for. A child molester will almost always give the child the chance to do the things that their parents forbid and will seem very ‘cool’. Make sure that your child is aware of such behaviors and also to trust their instincts. It is important they tell you about the circumstances and activities that take place when they are with other adults. Praise your child for making the right decision in uncertain circumstances.
Be calm when talking about sex with your child~Many parents are quite comfortable talking about sex with their child; however, for others, it remains an uncomfortable topic to discuss. First of all, do your best not to overreact when the subject of sex comes up and if you are raising the topic, pick a good time and talk matter of fact in an age appropriate way. We can feel unprepared when our children ask questions but remember they don’t need all the information at once. Children do need to know in no uncertain terms that it is always wrong to be touched in a sexual way, talked to about sex, have someone expose themselves or for an adult to show them pictures with sexual content. Ensure you talk about more than just being touched in an inappropriate way – it is a crime to have interaction with a child online that is sexually explicit even though your child will never even see the perpetrator – make sure they understand child molesters do different things, not just sexually inappropriate touch. There are a number of excellent books written for children and some parents find it easier to read with their child about sex rather than have the ‘talk’.
Role Modeling is Important~From the time your child is young do not insist they must hug or kiss Uncle X when visiting, or sit in some one’s lap if they really do not want to. Empower them all through their growing years that their body belongs to them and they get to make all the decisions about who gets to be physically close to them and when. I know it may hurt Grandpa’s feelings when his little Grand-daughter does not want to cuddle but have all family members work together to send the right message. A child who is confident and is raised to not only choose but voice their own opinion about physical contact will feel empowered to say ‘No’ in all situations rather than put their choice aside to simply behave or save face. Child molesters know that some children are more vulnerable than others to their sexual advances, teach your child it is always OK to say no to being touched or put in a situation where any adult is using sexual touch, talk or pictures – it is ALWAYS wrong.
Remain Vigilant~Be aware of access to sexually explicit content your child has at home. Magazines, cable television, and the Internet can open a whole world of sexual content to your child that you may never know they are viewing and children are curious about sex.