By Tawny Redford
Before we can prepare our children to know how to recognize a predator, we must first be clear on what classifies someone as such. Here are some facts to keep at the forefront of our minds while keeping our children out of danger: (Keep in mind that these tips are not a full profile of a predator, but instead tips to help parents be on the look out of qualities a predator might portray and to be aware so that they can better protect their children.)
What is a sexual predator?
“A predator is someone who looks for other people in order to use, control, or harm them in some way. A sexual predator is someone who has committed a sexually violent offense and is especially one who is likely to commit more sexual offenses.” (Webster, 2014)
Who is a predator?
An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors, church members. About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members. Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child. An estimated 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18. (Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Website, 2015)
What are some red flags to watch for?(Possible signs of grooming)
A predator might pay special attention to a child and make him or her feel special. A predator might isolate your child by involving him or her in fun activities that require them to be alone together. A predator might touch your child in your presence so that he or she thinks that you are comfortable with the touching. Keep in mind that the first physical contact between a predator and his or her victim is often nonsexual and designed to desensitize the child.A predator might take advantage of a child’s natural curiosity about sex by telling “dirty” jokes, showing him or her pornography or by playing sexual games. A predator may offer to play games or buy treats for young children. A predator might present him or herself as a sympathetic listener when parents, friends and others disappoint a child. A predator might eventually treat the child victim as a co-conspirator
Also be on the lookout for a person who:
- Exhibits peer-like play
- Has no adult friends and will spend time with children rather than adults
- Plays tickling games and roughhouses/dog piles with kids
- Refuses to honor boundaries set by you or by society in general (Not With My Child, 2006)
How should we react if our kids share their suspicion and discomfort with someone?
If our children trust us enough to open up about someone that makes them feel uncomfortable, then despite the person’s reputation or status, we need to take our children’s feelings seriously. It takes courage to share these incredibly personal thoughts with us and they should never be taken lightly. By not brushing off their feelings, we are teaching them that it is safe to listen to their inner voice.It is imperative that these signs of how to recognize a predator are discussed openly inthe home so that our children have their best possible chance of keeping out of danger! The safety of our children, their self-worth, and future ability to have ahealthy sexualityis at stake if we fail to do this.
Ready to prepare and protect your kids? Check out 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7
, 8-11, or 12+
for simple, straightforward lessons to teach your kids about predators, sexual identity, healthy relationships, intimacy, mechanics of sex, and other empowering topics.
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How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault (2000, January 1). Retrieved
December 3, 2014, from www.parentsformeganslaw.org/public/prevention_childSexualAbuse.html
How to Spot a Child Predator or Molester. (2006, January 1). Retrieved December 3,
2014, from http://www.notwithmychild.org (N.D.). Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://i.word.com/idictionary/predatorDru Sjodin National
Sex Offender Website. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2015,