Protecting our kids from unwanted attention!

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Post  Wed, Aug 02 2006, 3:18 pm
Parents are alarmed when they hear the word 'pedophile' (paedophile) and read and learn about people who s-xually abuse children.

Adults who behave in a s-xual way to children not only break the law but cause major distress to their victims that can effect them for the rest of their lives. In Australia we are now more openly talking about pedophiles and the s-Xual abuse of children and how it causes great suffering to children.

It is important to remember that children are more likely to be abused by someone they know and trust than by a stranger, but many people still find this hard to believe.

Children are not able to totally protect themselves from s-xual abuse, so it is necessary for parents to do all they can to educate and protect their children from adults who may take advantage. A balanced approach is so important because children also need caring adults who take an interest in them and who can be a wonderful bonus to their lives.

What are pedophiles?
Pedophiles are people who s-xually abuse children of either, or, of both s-xes.

They are usually men who are s-xually attracted to children, knowingly seek them out and perform s-xual acts for their own pleasure.
Sometimes they believe that if they are not violent or openly forceful, then they are not being abusive.
They often believe that if the child does not resist then the child is consenting (agreeing).
They often believe there is nothing wrong with their behaviour
. Most know they are breaking the law.

They often abuse a large number of children over a lifetime.
Pedophiles are called child molesters. The word molest is used to mean all forms of s-xual activity. S-xual abuse includes s-xual suggestions, showing [filth], fondling and touching private parts of the body, touching self and s-xual kissing, oral relations and penetration of the genital or backside areas with an object, aiver or other part of the body

What are pedophiles like?
It would really help us if we could identify pedophiles because they had a certain ‘look’. We could then help children to know how to avoid them, but there isn’t any one way to describe what they look like. People who molest children can be the respectable member of the community, the ‘nice guy’ down the street or a family member. It is easy to think that children are safe in the country. However, pedophiles come from all areas, not just the city.

Some things we do know about pedophiles:

They are often in a position where they have power or authority over a child and use this to abuse or threaten the child. What does a child do when a teacher suggests he will be given low marks and kept in, or a coach won't give him a game,
or a babysitter says that his pet might be killed, unless he does certain things (or as a threat to prevent him telling anyone)?
They may win the child's or parents' trust over a period of time before they abuse. They may become the 'kind' person who supports and befriends a parent in order to gain access to the children. When they become trusted they may be a welcome visitor in the home, they may mind the child when parents go out, or offer to take the child on an outing.
They often have hobbies and interests that appeal, and usually 'hook in' children by showing a keen interest in what they like or by giving presents such as money or gifts.
They often tell a child that theirs is a special relationship and what they do together should be a secret. It may be very confusing for a child if the activity is pleasurable.
They can make a child feel 'special'. A pedophile may make a child feel loved and cared for. Children who have never had this sort of attention or who have been abused at home, may be more likely to respond to someone who shows them attention and affection.
They often choose places to work at, or find ways to be near or involved, where there is easy access to children, such as schools, youth groups, or sporting organisations.
Pedophiles look for children in places where they are likely to be unsupervised eg parks, playgrounds, beaches and near schools. They go where parents may be distracted, such as sporting events, shopping centres, fetes and auctions.
The use of on-line chat rooms (Internet) by pedophiles to 'get' children is widespread. They go into chat rooms often pretending to be another child to connect with children. They can quite quickly begin s-xual conversations. They may develop a relationship and then arrange to meet the child without others knowing about it. Teenagers especially may think they have found a new friend and go to great lengths to keep the relationship private.

How can you protect your child?

We can do a lot to prepare our children for some of the dangers in life, but unfortunately, we cannot always stop bad things happening to them. We try to protect our children from being hit by a car and so we teach them road safety, (without scaring them with all the gory details and making them so frightened that they won’t cross a road). In the same way we can try to protect our children from the dangers of pedophiles.

Be suspicious if an adult seems more interested in spending time with your child than with you. It might be that he or she offers to look after your child, or wants to be alone with your child or take your child on a holiday.
Be wary of people who are overly kind, affectionate or loving towards your child or who give your child lots of gifts. Remember, most people have good intentions, so don't jump to conclusions.
Be very choosy about leaving your children with others. Ask them how they feel about being cared for by that person. Try to work out what your child is saying with his behaviour - this is how very young children can tell us if they are afraid or upset.
Teach your children about different parts of the body and which are their own private parts. Advise them to tell someone they trust if anyone, even someone they know very well, tries to touch their private parts or suggests something they don’t want to do which makes them feel scared or bad. You could look at the Kid's Health topic Keeping yourself safe' for ideas about how to talk about this with your child.
Children need to know it's important to keep on telling someone until they are taken seriously.
Teach your children to try and get away as quickly as possible from any person who makes them feel uncomfortable or frightened and to then tell people they trust about what has happened.
Teach your children never to keep secrets that make them feel uncomfortable or bad. Always listen to your children and trust what they say even if you are shocked by it. Act upon the information so your child feels supported by you. Teach your children that adults are not always right. This will help them if a pedophile tells them the abuse is okay and not to tell anyone.

Children should always go to and from school with their parents or other children if possible.
Teach your children never to go into public toilets alone. It is also wise for children at school to go to school toilets during breaks rather than alone during a lesson. Teach children to always tell you where they are going. If they are followed or frightened they should knock on the nearest door and ask for the Police to be called. Many children have a mobile - make sure they have two or three adults' phone numbers if they can't get you.
Always answer your children’s questions honestly and at a level that they can understand, even if you are embarrassed.

Things you teach your child will help, but they will not guarantee your child's protection. Children are not able to totally protect themselves. It is up to adults to do this.

How do you know if your child has been s-Xually abused?
Sometimes it is very difficult to know and parents can blame themselves for not knowing. It does not necessarily mean that you are not a good parent or that there is something wrong with your relationship with your child.

It is important to remember that some of the behaviours listed below can also be caused by something else that is happening in your child's life. This is what makes it so hard to know if your child has been s-xually abused.

Children may show unusual s-xual behaviour and knowledge of s-xual behaviour that you would not expect for their age. They may be more interested in s-xual activities than other children and in wanting to touch others in s-xual ways.
They may have unexplained redness or soreness around the genital areas.
Younger children who have been s-xually abused may become unusually withdrawn or unusually aggressive, have nightmares, start wetting the bed or acting out of character with their normal behaviour.
Older children may become aggressive, have difficulty at school and even run away from home.
Some children may become withdrawn and feel suicidal, hurt themselves, or take life threatening risks.
Keep in mind that these behaviours are not necessarily connected to s-xual abuse, but they do mean that something is going wrong for your child and that she needs help.

All children need support and help if they are abused. It is important for you to provide love and reassurance to your child but also to get support from someone who specialises in helping s-xually abused children.
If you have serious concerns about these matters don’t ignore your gut feeling, phone Family and Youth Services, Child Abuse Services, Crisis Care Services, or the Police.

Some common difficulties people face:

the person who is s-xually abusing your child is related to you or is a well-known, trusted person in the community
you might not want to make the situation worse, with more stress and tension for the child or the family, especially if the abuser is within the family
you might want to protect the child but not get the abuser into trouble with the law you just might not want to get involved at all - it may seem easier to do nothing
you might be too shamed to talk about s-xual abuse - it is difficult for most people
you might have difficulty deciding on what is more important - protecting a child or protecting the abuser.
s-xual abuse can affect children for the rest of their lives.

You may be the one person who has the courage to speak out and do something for the child. The most important thing is the child’s right to be kept safe.

Children are more likely to be s-xually abused by someone they know than a stranger.
It is especially difficult for parents to believe that a family member has s-xually abused their child.
Work on your relationship with your children so they find it easy to talk to you about their worries.
Try to teach them about being safe in a way that does not frighten your children or give them too many rules.
Teach children the names of their s-xual body parts so they know how to talk about them and feel okay talking about them to you.
It is very hard for children to tell others if they have been abused. They have usually been told by the abuser that something dreadful will happen to them or to others if they tell.
Pedophiles often win over the trust of the parents and children before they abuse them.
Children who are s-xually abused need all your support.
Children who are s-xually abused are never to blame for what has happened.
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Post  Wed, Aug 02 2006, 3:56 pm
Thanks for posting this.

Dh's little sister was s. abused by their grandfather. She was only 5 when it started, and didn't really understand what was happening at first. He told her to keep it a secret. She finally disclosed it to a friend.

[Ironically, my dh and MIL initially described this friend as being a sort of "bad girl" (she was only 8, so I suppose that just meant that some of her language was questionable). Maybe that's why my SIL chose to tell her - because she thought she wouldn't be so shocked? I remember telling my dh and MIL that they shouldn't think of this girl as being a "bad girl". To the contrary - she was a good friend who did the right thing by telling her mother, who immediately called my MIL.]

My ILs had been ultra-careful and protective of my SIL, esp b/c she was the youngest and the only girl. They never trusted any outside babysitters at all, just the grandparents. However, there was this blind spot b/c it was family. I never had any clue that there was a problem, but afterward it came out that there were signs that things weren't right with the grandfather. The most shocking was that he had apparently done something to his wife's younger sister! The grandmother, who is an incredibly domineering and narcisistic personality, worked to hush everything up. My MIL has always been a somewhat meek personality, easily bullied by her mother, so she never stopped to question what had happened. In being so super-careful about strangers, they were blind to the danger under their nose.

If c"v s. abuse does occur, what happens afterward is so important. My SIL was okay because she was believed and embraced and the family made sure that she never saw the grandfather again. Jewish Child and Family Services was involved, and she had counselling. She's basically okay now. I'm thankful that the ped reported what happened, because JF&CS was able to make it crystal-clear that these things had to be done. I've worked with other victims who weren't so lucky - mothers sided with the abusers against them, and they ended up angry, being bounced around foster homes. IMO, those mothers are no better than the abusers themselves.
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Post  Wed, Aug 02 2006, 4:07 pm
The most shocking was that he had apparently done something to his wife's younger sister! The grandmother, who is an incredibly domineering and narcisistic personality, worked to hush everything up.

Are these frum people?
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