How Sexual Predators Choose Child Victims: Part 1

How do you identify a predator? (CAUTION: Graphic content)

You may live next door to one, car pool with one, work with one, attend family get-togethers with one; or even live with one. They could be your child’s teacher, doctor, coach, spiritual mentor, youth leader or club leader. We live among them.

If you are to unknowingly observe a predator you may see: A cheerful smile, a joyful attitude, compassionate care, a generous giver, a dynamic speaker, an innocent joker, a spiritual giant, a prayerful parent, or a concerned friend. Many predators have the ability to hide, blend or put on a good act. A predator is capable of separating their sexual deviance from all other aspects of their life. They can be all those good things most of the time and a predator occasionally.

We live in a world which is full of evil but even evil can have a nice side; an attractive side.

We must remember the entire issue regarding childhood sexual abuse is purely a spiritual battle and it isn’t entirely about sexual gratification; it’s about control.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

John 3:19 (NIV) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 12:46 (NIV) “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

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How can parents protect against child predators? The sad fact remains; there is no full proof guarantee our children will never be abused no matter the measures we take to keep them safe. Statistics say 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will suffer sexual abuse before the age of 18. Even in the Christian community.

Since knowledge is power, and I know you as a parent want the power to protect, I am going to pass on to you the knowledge I have gained through life experience and prolonged study.

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There are clues to look for and safety guidelines to live by. There is the power of prayer and there is the importance of talking openly with your children. If you need help talking with your child about their God given gift of sexuality; I have two links to Reviving Our Hearts with, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, where she interviews Josh McDowell. I thank my friend, Debbie, for bringing this broadcast series to my attention. I found the podcasts to be life changing in how I talk with my two young boys about the culture around us.

Josh McDowell: “We cannot raise our children the way our parents raised us—not in the light of the Internet.”

“. . . develop a close relationship with them (your children).” He recommends that we begin the conversations when our children are young.

Josh McDowell says when we do become aware of an issue, “Here’s the key, as a parent, not to become judgmental, not to shame.

You may listen to the interview or quickly read the transcripts. The links are at the end of this post.

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Due to the length of today’s topic I am breaking it in to three segments. The first part for today is, “How Sexual Predators Choose Victims”, Part 2 “Protecting Children from Predators”, Part 3 “Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse”

How a predator chooses their victim. (Not a conclusive list and is somewhat dated. I believe with the rise of internet pornography, many predators will be younger and quicker. They will just do it.)

  • Looks for a child lacking close family relationships. Often preys upon children from split homes; especially children of single moms who are working multiple jobs while providing for their children. Lack of parental supervision provides opportunity.
  • Offers to provide free babysitting or fun outings for your child; without you present because it provides opportunity for victimization.
  • Often times molesters know the children are vulnerable because they know the family, or a parent has confided in this trusted person about the child’s mental state. They are very calculatingly deliberate in gaining the child’s trust. This is the most important aspect to help them accomplish their sexually gratifying goal.
  • They target victims who are undervalued by their community; the church, the school, the neighborhood.
  • They target victims in settings where they have authority or leadership over their victim.
  • Once the process has begun a predator can strike anywhere. It can be as simple as being left alone with the child for a moment, a few minutes or an hour. Molestations have happened in doctors’ offices with the parent present. Children have been molested underneath the dining room table while sitting on an unknown predator’s lap. A predator in the mood and who has a moment of opportunity can victimize by touch, fondling, showing a pornographic image or exposing their genitals. It’s quick and it’s over before you return to the room from retrieving food to serve to them or taking a phone call in the next room.

In January 2010, Oprah Winfrey sat down with four admitted child molesters and their therapist, Dawn Horwitz-Person, for a frank discussion about the cycle of abuse. Read more here:…

These predators admitted:

  • It is a high percentage (90%) of molesters who know the child/children they molest.
  • Molesters like to pick children of close friends or family members; especially children who rely on them.
  • Molesters target vulnerable children.
  • Molesters will tell the child they love him/her. They also look for children with a poor parental relationship and attempt to be the good trusting adult in the victim’s life.
  • If the molester can manipulate the victim and make the act feel good it confuses the child and makes them think it is their own fault.
  • According to these men, the “grooming” process starts early, and at first, it is subtle.

Taken from: Child Sexual Abuse: 6 Stages of Grooming, By Dr. Michael Welner

Read more here…

The typical offender is male, begins molesting by age 15, engages in a variety of deviant behavior, and molest an average of 117 youngsters, most of whom do not report the offense.

Predators will (look for a victim through these avenues; including via the internet):

  • Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information
  • Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities
  • Affirm feelings and choices of child
  • Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child
  • Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography
  • Flatter and compliment the child excessively, sends gifts, and invests time, money, and energy to groom child
  • Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent
  • Drive a wedge between the child and his or her parents and friends
  • Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire
  • Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence

*Enough Is Enough, “How Do Predators Groom Kids?” Internet Safety 10

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One may add to the pedophile’s check-list, which does not necessarily mean a preference for girls or boys: A  particular eye color, hair color, physical build/body shape, age range, or type of clothing a child might wear. (See Toxic Tuesday: Pedophile or Molester?) 

Next time I will address: Protecting Children from Predators.

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Writer, wife, imperfect home schooling mom to 3 amazing humans. Writing about lessons learned from surviving 100% of my worst days. Educating the church about domestic violence & abuse in their midst. Advocating for abused women living in, or leaving destructive marriages. Living an A.I.P. lifestyle. St. Louis Cardinals fanatic. Dog lover, Football fan.

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