Protecting our children from sexual predators involves grooming awareness
Protect Your Child from Sexual Predators
One of the most important steps in fighting child sexual predators is to educate yourself and your family on the “grooming process” and to recognize the danger signs of “grooming”.
What is “grooming”?
A process of targeting a child and engaging him/her for the purpose of sexual activity.
It involves elements of coercion and manipulation.
It involves the intent to sexually exploit the child.
Who is the target of the “grooming” process?
Predators typically target children with obvious vulnerabilities that they can exploit:
Seeking attention and friendship
Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
Isolated from peers
Spends time alone
Experiencing family problems (divorce, death, etc.)
How does a child predators approach an intended victims?
Presents themselves as a positive role model for the child
Exhibits interest in the child
Provides excessive compliments
Learn the child’s habits, likes, dislikes
Pretends to share common interest, backgrounds, experiences, etc.
What is the purpose of grooming?
The child predator’s goal is to gradually increase access to the potential victim, eventually engage in sexual activity with him/her, and decrease the likelihood that the perpetrator’s actions will be discovered by others, including the victim.
The perpetrator’s goal also is to make the potential victim feel comfortable enough to become close to and be alone with the perpetrator, and to keep the sexual activity a secret.
Grooming is a process that typically consists of the following steps:
Building Trust and Breaking Down a Child’s Defenses
Pretend to share common interests, backgrounds, experiences, etc.
Give gifts as tokens of friendship
Provide access to valuable items, privileges, or activities that are typically unavailable or off limits to the child
Flatter and make the child feel special and somehow indebted
Offer a sympathetic and understanding ear (e.g., “No one understands you like I do”; “I am here for you”; “I know what that’s like”, etc.)
Reassuring to the Family
Strike up relationships with the child’s parents (single-parent families are prime targets)
Attempt to gain trust or take advantage of the trust of the child’s parents or care providers
Behave in exemplary ways to alleviate concerns or possible suspicions
Gradual Erosion of Boundaries
Escalate inappropriate physical contact, such as:
Hugging or touching nonthreatening areas of body (e.g., hand holding, rubbing back, caressing hair, etc.)
Pretending to accidentally touch or brush up against the child
Positioning self in close proximity to the child (e.g., sleep in the same bed)
Engaging the child in nonsexual inappropriate behaviors (e.g., drinking alcohol)
Touching and fondling inappropriate areas of the child’s body
Construct Secrecy with the Child
Make the child fearful that he or she will be in trouble if their activities together are discovered
Tell the child that touching between them is good because their relationship is special
Tell the child there will be consequences if he or she reports the sexual behavior (e.g., “We no longer can be friends”; “Your family will hate you”; etc.).
Working to Secure Compliance
Escalate intrusiveness of sexual behaviors over time
Manipulate child into performing or permitting a desired sex act
Threaten to harm child or a person who is important to child if he or she does not comply