A parent’s worst nightmare is to discover that their child has been abused. The primary job of a mother or father is to protect their children from the ills of the world, including crime, violence and bullying. Child abuse is a horrific crime against the world’s most innocent people. One would believe because it is so vile that people would be able to spot a molester from a mile away. Nothing further from the truth could be more accurate. Spotting a child molester is not an easy task. Often times, a parent simply has to go off his or her own instincts to know someone has viciously violated their child. Other times, parents detect their children are suddenly behaving oddly; acting up in school or suddenly being disrespectful are all signs that something traumatic could have occurred to the child and they simply do not know how to communicate it.
Below are some ways a parent may be able to tell if their child has been molested. They will also find some tips on deciphering if an individual could be a molester and how best they can protect their children online and out in public.
Signs Your Child May Have Been Molested
The suspicion that a child has been molested is a hard pill to swallow but as with any thing, acting on early detection is the best way to find out. While it is not the easiest thing to discuss with a child, have the chat about what is “appropriate touching” from an adult or other people. It’s something all children must hear as child molestation cases are unfortunate but common stories in the media. Additionally, it is difficult to detect foul play because children often deny occurrences if they are scared of the consequences. Detecting if a minor has come in contact with a child molester is tricky, but here are some of the most common signs such a thing has occurred:
- When a child, who is usually upbeat and happy, starts to behave in a completely opposite manner (standoffish, rude, uninterested)
- When a child begins to behaving inappropriately, especially in a sexual manner (putting toys in sexual positions, gyrating, discussing sex with others)
- The child is suddenly depressed about everything
- The child starts complaining of difficulty using the bathroom or that their genitals and rectum hurt or that urinating and passing waste is painful
- The child is suddenly disrespectful to adults
- The child starts having sex at an extremely early age
- The child starts receiving various gifts from an adult
- Coming home from school, the tutors or the babysitter and visible bruises are on their bodies that they are scared to explain how those bruises got there.
- According to crisisconnection.org, children reacting oddly to common events (i.e. sleeping alone in the dark) is a sign of abuse
These are just some signs to be aware of if a child has been molested. There are many more signs to be on the edge about but generally, an extreme change in behavior is the first sign to be on the lookout for.
How Do Child Molesters Behave?
Of all things to consider, the official Federal Bureau of Investigations website states that deciphering a child molester is quite difficult because they can be anybody. According to the site, one of the most disturbing facts about child molesters is that they are typically well acquainted to their victims. Additionally, many child molesters have spouses and children of their own, according to antisex.info. Check out the list of common characteristics child sex abusers have:
- According to antisex.info, about half of all child molesters are minors themselves
- According to antisex.info, although some child molesters have children of their own, they feel more “justified” in pursuing sex with other people’s children
- Antisex.info states that 57% of child molesters where abused as children too
- Antisex.info stresses that a common trait of a child molester is their repeated and heavy involvement with children (i.e. babysitting for free, tutoring for free, insisting on being around children in an unusual way)
- Stress to children that they are authority figures, even though they are not, because they will likely not be questioned for their behavior
- May pretend to always have a lost pet and seek a child’s assistance to locate it
- Want to be around lonely and depressed children (i.e. children playing alone in the park, walking around alone in the mall or at an arcade)
- Likes to shower many gifts to children they are tutoring or babysitting in absorbent amounts
- Stopitnow.org states that adults that tend to have personal and private inappropriate discussions (or any adult-level discussion) with children should be scrutinized
- Adults who constantly contact children, particularly in private via emails or carefully worded texts, may be up to no good, states stopitnow.org
- Gets very angry or upset when plans to be alone with children are halted
- Manipulative towards children (i.e. making a child feel insecure or wrong if they do not engage in inappropriate behavior)
- A babysitter who has several rules about parents dropping by unannounced to check on children in his or her care and gets angry when parent does arrive unannounced
An easy way for child molesters to approach children is online. In a general sense, the internet is not heavily regulated. It is hard to tell if a user is a child or an adult through a computer network of wires and fibers. And child sex abusers know this! Many child molesters find minors in chatrooms or forums designed for a juvenile audience. Some parents get so paranoid about their child’s internet use, they may restrict all internet use outside of homework, even though the official FBI website suggests that parents discuss with their children the dangers of sharing personal data with people online. “Stranger danger” exists in cyberspace as much as it does in person. Here are some behaviors to look out if a parent is suspicious of the activities their children are conducting online:
- Suddenly turning off monitor when you are approaching
- Receiving a lot of packages in the mail all of a sudden
- Spending more and more time online, especially at night
- Internet use cuts into family time or homework
- Goes to meet up with “new” friends out of the blue
- Computer starts to operate oddly (i.e. downloaded files, especially pornography, often contain computer viruses and spam, causing a pc to malfunction)
- Becomes unusually angry when internet use is restricted
Parents can take advantage of many strategies to prevent a child from getting involved into inappropriate behaviors online. FBI. gov and the official Federal Trade Commission website describe several tips that are highlighted below:
- Be aware of the COPP Act (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) which bans websites and apps from requesting data from minors under the age of 13 and allows parents and legal guardians to have complete control of the child’s internet use
- Have a family computer in open space so anyone can see what is being displayed on the monitor
- If there is no family computer, ensure that a parent is present during the child’s computer use or their bedroom door is opened at all times
- Take advantage of the parental controls on all computers in the house
- Have access to the child’s email and social media accounts
- Have a discussion with the children about how dangerous it is to chat with and meet up with people from online
- Have a discussion with the children about sharing personal data with people and networks online (i.e. social security numbers, addresses, birthdays, etc.)
- Although this is a more extreme measure, parents may forbid all internet use outside of homework and research
- Checkout the sex offender’s registry in your area occasionally to be aware of offenders in close proximity of your community.
Under federal law, sites that operate under the COPP law must receive the parent’s permission before requesting any personal data for a child. Anything otherwise would be against the law. Even if websites follow the rules and parents still believe there is foul play against minors, they can report the website to the Federal Trade Commission and possibly have the website shutdown; criminal charges could occur.
No parent wants to receive the call or make the discovery that his or her precious little one has been the victim of abuse. A child that has been molested or abused has to contend with that physical and emotional pain for the rest of their lives. As a parent, do not hesitate to investigate any individual you strongly feel or know for a fact will abuse a child. Do not feel overbearing for restricting a child’s internet use. Start a watch group to lookout for suspicious behaviors towards children in local communities. Most importantly, talk with kids about the dangers of child molesters and how important it is to communicate with adults they trust. Ensure them that no one, child or adult, should be hurt or abused in anyway, ever.