By Julia Cook
Sexual exploitation and victimization of children is a worldwide epidemic. We can sum society's historical attitude about this epidemic in one word: DENIAL. Most people do not want to hear about child molestation, and would prefer to pretend it just doesn't occur. We know however this is simply not the case. In order to stop this abuse from occurring, we must discover ways to increase our awareness as a whole, and become proactive as opposed to reactive.
The key to preventing sexual exploitation and victimization of children is education. If we want to stop these terrible, ugly acts, we must teach our children to become aware and proactive.
How to Spot a Child Molester:
Probably well-known and liked by the family and the child.
May be a man, or a woman, married or single.
May be a child, adolescent, or adult.
May be a parent, step-parent, relative, family friend, teacher, clergyman, baby-sitter, or anyone who comes into contact with children on a regular basis.
Is likely to be a stable, employed, and respected member of the community.
May be highly educated - Education and intelligence doesn't prevent someone from being a child molester.
As you can see, it can be anyone!
A sexual predator will do just about anything to meet his/her own needs. They will go to extremes to develop a good relationship with your child, and will then involve an imbalance and misuse of power in that relationship to get what they want and avoid getting caught. Misused power can include: blackmail or bribes, misuse of trust, threats against loved ones, physical strength, force and even weapons. Once an imbalance of power is established, the child becomes trapped.
What you would hear from a sexual predator:
I convince your child he is responsible for my behavior.
I make your child think no one will believe them if they tell.
I tell your child you will be disappointed in him for what he has done with me.
I warn your child he will be punished if he tells.
I may threaten your child with physical violence against him, a loved one, or even a pet.
I may make your child feel sorry for me.
I may be so good at manipulating children your child may try to protect me because I have convinced him he loves me.
The best way to prevent a child molester from trapping your child is to establish open communication. Let your child know you love him unconditionally, and there is nothing he can't talk with you about. The child who is seeking adult mentorship from someone other than his parents, is a blazing target for a child molester.
Discuss in depth the differences between a good secret (i.e. a special surprise that will make someone happy) and a bad secret (i.e. anything that makes the child feel uncomfortable, or anything that is hurtful or harmful to someone.) Explain you would never want your child to have to keep a bad secret.
Tell your child the body parts that are covered up by a swimming suit are different from other body parts. They are special, private and their own. Body parts covered up by swimsuits should never be touched by anyone you as a parent are not aware of.
Know where your child is at all times and pay special attention to who he is hanging out with, and how much time he is spending with people. It takes a lot of time for a Kid Trapper to groom a child.
With child victimization, we cannot undo what has already been done. Our only option is to move forward, heal, and prevent it from ever happening again.
Julia Cook is a former teacher and school guidance counselor. Julia is the recipient of several book awards including the AEP (Association for Educational Publishers) Distinguished Achievement Award. The goal behind all of Julia's books is to actively involve her readers into her fun and creative stories, and teach them how to become life-long problem solvers. Inspirations for her books come from working with children and carefully listening to parents and teachers. www.juliacookonline.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com