How do you know when a person is safe for your child to be around? Answer: You really can never be 100% sure because pedophiles and other brands of child molesters are master manipulators; but, there are some clues that can be indicators that someone is not safe for your child.
Ways to identify a child molester:
- They are more interested in talking to your child than they are in talking to you.
- They tend to be people who spend time alone with children; in particular, males who strategize alone time with children or one particular child.
- Pedophiles often try to elicit sympathy from their victims by telling them sad stories about their own childhoods.
- Child molesters are usually people you know and trust.
- Child molesters do not respect boundaries – particularly those of children.
- They treat children like peers rather than like children.
- Most child molesters are male.
- They place themselves geographically in locations where children are present – schools, parks, kids’ clubs…
- They become involved in relationships with adults who have children, particularly single mothers.
- They “groom” their victims with promises and gifts.
- They manipulate their victims by sympathizing with them and tricking them into believing that they “really” understand the child’s situation.
- They look children in the eye and appear to be genuinely interested and concerned for them.
- They are incapable of having a healthy relationship with a mature woman.
- Pedophiles tend to have “gaps” in their employment history.
At some point during the relationship an element of secrecy gets introduced. The beginning secrets may be “innocent,” that is, not involving sexual content; but it is in the act of having a secret that the child becomes “hooked” in the relationship. Once the molester realizes that he has gotten away with getting the child to keep a secret, then he quickly increases his level of physical boundary violation to the point of sexual contact.
A relationship between a child molester and a child feels very intimate. Usually the child molester has violated all appropriate boundaries to the point that his relationship with the child involves elements akin to an intimate adult relationship. In fact, many pedophiles actually believe they are having a real and beneficial relationship with the child. The child enjoys the relationship to some degree and puts up with the sexual violation because the relationship feels deep and meaningful, meeting the child’s needs to be seen and heard by an adult. A pedophile is meeting the child’s needs for affection, acknowledgement, attention, and value. The child is trapped in this elicit relationship, partly because it is meeting some of the child’s “felt” needs, albeit, inappropriately. Unfortunately, this intimate relationship is extremely toxic, perverting the child’s desire for closeness, and confusing the child’s sense of how a relationship “should” feel. Sexual abuse not only causes the victims to feel a deep sense of shame and rage, it confuses the victim’s perceptions of love, boundaries, and need for validation.
Another dynamic that occurs when a child is molested is that the child becomes deeply ashamed and she feels so humiliated by what is happening that she tries to push it out of her mind and pretend that everything is fine. She is so horrified by the truth that she mentally runs away from it and will not tell anyone, let alone herself, what is really happening to her.
The best way to prevent the sexual molestation of your child is to pay attention to her. Make sure that you meet her felt needs of acknowledgement, attention, and worth. Look her in the eye and listen to her. Be interested in your child’s life. Let her know you are paying attention, you are attuned, and you care about her wellbeing. Talk to your child about deep and meaningful things. Make sure she is not being neglected or left to fend for herself. A sexual predator feeds on children who are neglected. Make sure your child is not neglected.