Tactics Used By Sexual Predators

A big concern for survivors of sexual abuse is how to keep your own children safe from sexual predators. On the first glance, two difficulties spring to mind.

  • On one hand survivors could easily be 'over vigilant' and not let their child out of their view. Such behaviour could greatly restrict the child's social development. Spontaneity, socialising, exploring, and experimenting could be hindered and an important source of self-confidence and self-esteem could remain untapped.
  • On the other hand survivors could be not vigilant enough. They might be desensitised to dangerous clues and give their child too much freedom and not enough supervision.

So what are the tactics used?
Deceptive Trust Development: It seems to be clear that sexual perpetrators plan the assault far in advance and are willing to invest time in preparing the child. They allow time for the development of trust between them and the child so that their chances for access to the child for a sexual encounter increase.

Grooming: Grooming the child refers to actions that are designed to desensitise the child to sexual material and sexual contact. Grooming includes 'accidental' inappropriate touch, showing of sexual images, sexual talk, games involving sexual touch or sexual references, making comments about the child's sexual body parts, and implicit or explicit sexual suggestions.

Isolation: Isolating the child from his/her family, friends, and other supportive persons such as neighbours is part of the strategy to manipulate the circumstances in such a way that the perpetrator has easy access to the child. Isolation can come in the from of baby sitting, offering a ride home, inviting the child to come to the perpetrators home, offering to spend time with the child or taking the child on outings (zoo, beach etc.). Fragile and stressed families are particularly vulnerable to this sort of exploitation.

Approach: Researchers (see reference below) have identified that sexual predators go about initiating the sexual contact with preliminary physical or verbal acts that then easily spiral into sexually abusing the child. This can take place in the form of inviting the child to sex games, tickling the child, playing rough and tumble, chasing games, hide and seek, or bathing and/or undressing a child.

When you find that a person much older than your child is spending a lot of time with your child without you being present, you need to ask yourself, WHY?

Stop sign
Besides being vigilant and looking at how safe your child is, it is also important to talk to him or her about safe touch, safe language, and about their rights to have their boundaries respected. That might include a whole range of interventions that can become part of your normal parenting, for example that your child does not have to kiss grandma good night if it doesn't want to.

Check out the article
Communication Tactics Used By Sexual Predators To Entrap Children Explained.
University of Missouri-Columbia (2008, April 21). Communication Tactics Used By Sexual Predators To Entrap Children Explained. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/04/080417163856.htm

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