Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Child Molesters

March 26, 2009

It would be wonderful if all child molesters were marked with a big red danger sign on their nose. Then we could easily steer clear of them. Instead, we must trust our gut and watch out for warning signs.

If a new person in your life seems very eager to spend time with your children, pay attention. Be especially alert when you hear yourself frequently saying "You don't need to do that" or "Are you sure?"

Pay attention if your child used to love spending time with a certain person and now seems reluctant. Children are shouting with their actions that something "yucky" is going on. Tune into your younger children's play. Little children play what they are learning. If your child is killing a specific teenager or adult friend with toys, chanting about hating a friend, or is playing in a sexualized way with his toys, or is using sexual words during playtime, your child is distressed and is probably a victim. If your child is excessively clingy all of a sudden, or has radically changed his/her appearance (baggy clothes or sexy clothes are typical signs), or is suddenly doing poorly in school be alert and calmly ask direct questions.

Remember that child abusers are normal looking people--in fact some of them look like especially good or kind people. Watch their behavior and trust it more than their words. Sexual abusers accustom the victim to little bits of questionable touching with "games," roughhousing, tickling, and play.

Trust your gut. If you don't feel comfortable with someone, then close off his/her access to your children. You don't need to prove anything. You don't need to even explain yourself. It is your job to protect your child the best that you can.

If you suspect that your child has been abused in some way, work on being available to listen. Children can only tell their secrets if they feel confident that you won't "go off the deep end" with a big emotional response. Help your child to feel safe with you.

If you find out that your child has been abused by a neighbor, friend, relative, or stranger, report it to the police and seek counseling help for your child (and for yourself too because it causes tremendous stress to cope with what your child has gone through).

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