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Protecting Children From Child Molesters!

By Bettie Corbin Tucker (Beth Sterling)

  1. Is your child extremely shy and/or insecure? Molesters are drawn to children who appear to be hurting, lonely, and unsure of themselves. Try to instill confidence in your children by continually pointing out their good qualities. Verbally express your love, faith and belief in them, and teach them that even though they will make mistakes, they are not mistakes.
  2. Does your child ride a school bus? Some child molesters follow school buses to see where children get on or off. Both parents and children should be very observant for any cars following the bus or circling the neighborhood.
  3. Is your child's name, address, and telephone number published in a church or similar type directory? A child molester may use such directories to obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of your children. Such information gives the molester easier access. Parents should make an intelligent decision as to how much, if any, information they want to provide to the public about their children.
  4. Do you leave a light on in your child's bedroom at night? A molester realizes that many children are afraid to sleep in the dark. Use a small night light instead. For additional safety, place additional night lights in other bedrooms as well.
  5. Do the windows of your child's bedroom display anything that, from the outside, could identify it as a child's room? A child molester looks for such things to identify where children are. Never allow your children to display their art work, crafts, posters, etc. in the windows of their room.
  6. Do you put your child's name on his/her clothing or other items? When a molester calls children by their first name, they may think that they should know the person and let their guard down. Putting the child's name where it can be seen by a stranger is a real "no no." They totally forget that their name is printed on their lunch box, sweater, coat, or umbrella.
  7. Will your child's name along with the name of his/her parents appear in an article, be printed in your local newspaper? With the parents name and/or address, a molester, using the telephone directory, can easily find your child's address and phone number. Be cautious and only allow a limited amount of information to be printed about your children. Never tell a molester that "Susan or John Smith, daughter or son of Frank and Patricia Smith, has excelled in school, writes poetry, or has won a sports award." Such information makes it easier for the molester to start an "interesting" conversation with the child about his /her interests if an initial contact is made.
  8. Is your child's homework, art work, etc., ever displayed in a public place with their name or other identifying information on it? Again, don't help the molester single out your child by providing him/her with information. Whenever I see this in malls, fast food restaurants or stores, I always shudder in disbelief that so much information about our little ones is being given to any person passing by.
  9. Does your child appear to be excessively afraid of authority? A child molester succeeds in large part due to a child's natural desire to please an adult and the fear they have of displeasing those in authority. The child molester knows and counts on this. Teach your children to respect authority but not to fear it. Tell them that adults can also do wrong things and make mistakes. Let them know that just because an adult asks them to do something, they don't always have to obey. If asked by an adult to do something that seems wrong, assure them that they can say "no" and come to you to discuss it without fear of being punished.
  10. Has your child lost a parent through death, separation, prison, etc.? A child molester thrives on and seeks out those children that he/she feels are vulnerable. He/she knows that, many times, such children are crying out for attention and will do anything to get it. Children, when one parent is missing, are often dealing with feelings of loss, anger, rejection, fear and undeserved guilt. This makes them a very vulnerable target. An extra hug and honest conversation can go a long way in helping them deal with their feelings..
  11. Do you have a current picture of your children? This may sound elementary; however, believe it or not, there have been cases where it has taken parents several days to come up with a photo for police, the media, etc. Whenever a child is abducted by a child molester or other person it is imperative that you have a current photo of your child. Time is of the essence, so keep current pictures of your children in a place where you can immediately retrieve them. Some children's agencies will provide you with free pictures, a description -- height, weight, eye color, etc. of your children and their fingerprints.
  12. Have you explained "good touch -- bad touch" to your child in a responsible, loving, and caring way? Molesters have hundreds of what may appear to be innocent, but inappropriate, ways of touching children. For example: a babysitter giving a child a bath; a family friend teaching a young girl how to swim, an uncle throwing his nephew or niece around in a swimming pool. The list is endless. It is an absolute must that you instruct your children specifically what parts of their body are "good touch -- bad touch" and that no one, absolutely no one, is to touch them in the personal areas of their body that are "bad touch." They must be instructed and know that if they are ever touched in those areas that they are to tell the person to stop, get away from them and immediately tell you or another adult what has happened. Use age-appropriate information to convey this information -- dolls or teddy bears work well in instructing very young children.
  13. Do you talk with (not to) your children daily? Have you made them understand that they can safely come to you about any and all situations they may encounter? Don't wait for the big problem to occur. Through two-way conversations, build a trusting, relationship with your children so that when trouble strikes there is a comfortable, familiar basis for sharing.
  14. Are you aware that most child molesters are not caught, are nonviolent, and are persons known by the victim or family? A molester could be male or female, a friend of the family, teacher, scout leader, sunday school teacher, neighbor, anyone, even a member of the family. Only a few are caught and even fewer are the violent abductors one reads about in the paper. Therefore, a national registry of convicted offenders is important, but don't allow this to give you a false sense of security. Sadly, most offenders are not reported or caught. Always be on guard and try to make sure that those to whom you entrust your children have a child abuse clearance by the state.
  15. Do you know how a molester grooms his/her victims? The molester becomes their friend, by giving them their time and attention. Sometimes, but not always, they will give gifts or some other type of award -- going to the playground, a movie, carnival, for ice cream, etc. When they feel they have gained the trust of the children and the parents, they approach the children in a sexual way.
  16. Do you, or any other member of your family, have inappropriate sexual feelings toward your children? If so, please contact a counselor or qualified therapist for help immediately. Unfortunately, the largest single group of child molesters are members of the child's family -- parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins -- this includes extended family members and step-family members. Incestuous relationships always cause long-term, damaging emotional problems to the child, and yet, are the least reported.
  17. Have you ever asked your church or other organization to which you may belong to hold an educational seminar or workshop about childhood sexual abuse? If not, why not?
  18. Are you aware that there are resources available to help victims, perpetrators and potential perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse? Check with counseling facilities, child welfare, and churches.
  19. What can you do do help prevent the sexual abuse of children? Be informed, be educated, and channel your energy and/or anger to bring about positive change.

By the author

I was sexually abused when I was eleven years old. As an adult my husband and I attended a church where a deacon was arrested on charges of sexually abusing two teen girls. A church official asked my husband and I to allow this man to stay with us until his sentencing since we had no young children in our household. No one in the church knew that I had been sexually abused. After much discussion and prayer, we agreed to allow Paul to stay with us but enforced very rigid rules. At first I was very cold to Paul, having flashbacks to the time when I was abused. Sometimes when I looked at him I saw my abuser. The confrontation between Paul and myself is unforgettable. Eventually I came to the place where I could see him as a human being who was sexually abused himself over a long period of time as a child. Although, acknowledging that there are no acceptable excuses for his destructive, sick behavior I did get inside his mind in an attempt to find some answers as to why a man or woman would commit such terrible acts. I learned about sexual addiction and how it affects the whole family. Through my relationship with Paul, I came to terms with my own abuse and forgive my offender -- just months before his death. My story (told in The Thorn of Sexual Abuse), is one of truth, pain and victory. All victims need to write about their experience. It is a good beginning and often a "first step" in dealing with tough issues. .Some "religious" leaders feel my book is too sexually explicit but it was written so that victims can identify with me (Beth) and perpetrators with Paul.