It’s Not Just Strangers- spotting potential abusers: Part II
While 96% of all abusers are men,* and men tend to be the focus of this article, it is important that we refrain from trivializing the role of women as abusers as well. In this article, I speak mostly about men, but the same holds true for women. Here are some tips to spot potential perpetrators or unsafe situations:
1. Look for people who are more interested in your children than their own children. For example, if you go to a birthday party and see the father of the birthday kid paying more attention to your child than their child, take a moment to listen to the words they are saying to your child. Are they trying to draw your child away from the crowd? Are they excessively flattering? Are they trying to get your child to come for a playdate even when your child seems reluctant?
2. Pay attention to any men who are overly willing to be available to babysit, especially if they are willing to put off other, adult activities to be more available to your child for one on one time. This is true for teenage boys and boys or girls that you know have issues but just like to hang around with your children even though your children are significantly younger. Kids who are developmentally younger than their chronological age will still begin sexual development at the same age and if they feel more comfortable with children their own age, they are more likely to try out sexual behavior on younger children who will let them get away with it.
3. “Grabbers” are perpetrators that take the opportunity when it presents itself. These are, for example, the in-home, daycare provider’s brother who came to visit for a week and was in the home when you dropped your child off. You can protect your children from those by asking any adult who is in charge of your child to tell you if there will be any other adults around your child. If you notice a new face when you take your child to school or child care, don’t be afraid to ask. Just do what I do and say you are an over protective parent. Own it 🙂
4. “Groomers” are people who take time to get a child (and parent) comfortable with them. They may take a long time to even begin doing anything to the child. In the meantime, they begin to seamlessly insert themselves into the family and over time, develop a relationship with the children. Listen to your gut if you get a feeling about someone, take a minute to ask your child and get curious about how they feel when that person is around.
5. Be visible. Parents who are a known presence at school and day-care are less likely to have children who are victims. Show up unannounced at child care and for school lunches if your child’s school allows it. Volunteer a few times a year so you get to know teachers and other school personnel and they get to know you. Know your childcare provider and, if you do not trust his or her decision-making, get a new one.
6. Be aware of people in your own family who you know are perpetrators. This may sound obvious, however, I have met enough people by now who allowed their child to be around the grandparent who abused the parent, yet the parent felt if they were watchful enough, their child would not get hurt, or hoped that the perpetrator had changed enough that they would not do that to their grandchild. Similarly, if you are a divorced parent and abuse was an issue during your marriage, or you knew that your child’s other parent was harming or neglecting the children, if possible, protect your child from being alone with that parent. Wikipedia reports that, “the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that for each year between 2000 and 2005, “female parents acting alone” were most likely to be perpetrators of child abuse.” ** If someone is a known perpetrator to you, do not allow your child to be alone with them. Stepfathers and fathers respectively are the most likely to be reported as perpetrators of sexual abuse for girls 10 and older according to childabuse.org.
7. Listen to your child. Children, especially young children, often disclose information that we do not catch if we are not listening. If a child says something that causes you concern, be curious and ask them about it to clarify what they are talking about. Sometimes because our young children are so sexually innocent, they don’t even know that there was anything out-of-order with what happened and they just tell you about it.
I want to conclude by being perfectly clear, that there is no guarantee that our children will never deal with an abusive caretaker. However, the likelihood that a child will identify a problem to you sooner, so that you may take action immediately will be increased by talking to your child and being aware of the tricks of abusers.
- It’s Not Just Strangers- Part I (help4yourfamily.com)
- Chronological Age vs. Developmental Age (help4yourfamily.com)
- Teaching Young Children About “Stranger Danger” (help4yourfamily.com)
- When Your Inner Critic Hurts Your Relationship With Your Children (help4yourfamily.com)
3 Comments »
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Happy Parent Tip #1
- Why Sexual Abuse is Never a Child’s Fault…Not Even a Teenager
- Naming Patterns Changes Patterns
- This is your brain on attachment
- Last Chance for Two Great Opportunities
- Mother’s Retreat Weekend- It’s Really Happening!
- Stopping the Parent Shame and Blame Game
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Putting together something fun for you!
- Quick Jobs for Kids
- Staying Strong as a Couple