Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators
Over the past few years, we have seen horrible stories pertaining to children who were abused by either those they trusted or others, whom they felt they could trust. In recent months, the singer R. Kelly has once again come under attack for abusive behavior with children. He has been accused of holding children against their will, sexually abusing girls, and emotionally manipulating them to maintain control over them. Whether or not these allegations are true will be up to those who bring forth charges, if charges are brought. We are writing this article as the first of a three part series to provide some helpful tips on protecting your children from sexual predators.
Most sexual predators are not famous like R. Kelly. They are people that can fly under the radar. This makes it difficult for parents to detect which is why they can harm a child in the first place. There are basically three groups of abusers according to the FBI. Interfamilial, acquaintance and stranger. This article will focus on our first group- Interfamilial. In researching this series, we relied on the experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children™.
First we will consider those who are in the child’s regular life. These are what the FBI refers to as “Interfamilial” abusers. They abusers are related to the child in some fashion by either blood or marriage. They are the aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, etc. In extreme instances, pedophiles will marry simply to have access to children that he or she can abuse.
Protecting your child against those in the family can be a bit tricky. The offender gains the child’s trust. This usually leads to manipulation of the child by making him or her feel special. It may be through gifts or special time together. It can also be through more obvious forms of manipulation such as telling the child that they have a special bond. He may also use threats. “What would your mom or dad think of you if they knew of what you have been doing?” Either way, the child may hold the information to him or herself. The abuse continues.
When it’s a more distant relative, it can start with creepy hugs or groping. Let’s discuss that. We have always taught our children to respect everyone, especially those who visit our home and those that we visit, right? Well, sometimes our children sense a strangeness in someone. It does NOT mean that because the child thinks the Uncle smells funny there is anything inappropriate going on, but sometimes it DOES. Sometimes children are just being children, but sometimes children are correct that something feels wrong as someone is “hugging” them.
Here are a few tips:
- Keep a VERY close eye on the child(ren) when others are around so that they are not alone with them, especially if they have commented about feeling strange
- Ask them for more details on what “strange” means. If they say “always wanting extra hugs, touching, sitting in laps,” you can view this behavior personally. If the relative does not do this when you are around, take note of it. Teach the child to politely and respectfully decline anything more than a handshake in the future or do a bit more research on this individual. If there is something inappropriate going on, this may not be the first time this individual is doing this
- Always keep an open dialogue with your child. This is the most critical part. Your child needs to know that he or she can tell you anything – even if someone in your family or someone close to you is harming them or trying to harm them.
- Make sure you listen to the clues your child may be telling you. Small children don’t know the right words. If they are describing a “game” they play with an adult, be sure you know about that game and confirm that it’s a harmless game.
Remember that abuse is a very serious accusation. Ask questions and get the details required to know as much as you can. Comfort your child and make sure that they know it’s okay to tell you anything. Don’t panic. Seek the help of a mental health professional. Consult your pediatrician. Talk to your attorney.
If you are divorced or seperated and suspect there is abuse involving your child, take notes of anything the child has told you. Take photos of any injuries and get your child to a doctor as soon as possible. If you have legal representation, contact your lawyer as well. If you are in need of an attorney, contact me here. We will work together for a solution that puts your children first so that you can rest assured that you are doing everything within the law to protect them.
Be sure to check out our next article on Protecting Your Child from Acquaintance Predators – Coming Soon!