Warning About Child Sex Offenders - Protecting Or Scaring The Hell Out Of Our Kids? | Parenting Controversy

Warning About Child Sex Offenders – Protecting Or Scaring The Hell Out Of Our Kids?

By Cecilia On August 1, 2011 Under Parenting Controversy - Private

child sex offenderSexual molestation of children is absolutely THE most vile thing in the world to me. When I hear stories of child sex offenders being "dealt with" by other inmates in prison, honestly, it pleases me. They are monsters and they deserve it.

What doesn't please me is that for every abhorrent child molester in prison, hundreds more are lurking around us, and among us, looking for opportunities to do unspeakable acts to our children that will result in them being emotionally and psychologically scarred for life.

As parents, it's our job to protect our children from these sexual predators. Unfortunately, many parents think that if they do the basics like keep a close watch over their children in parks and other public places, and don't let them wander the streets alone, their children will be safe from falling prey to paedophiles. Sure, doing these things is a good start, but there is more to protecting our children from predators than this.

child molesterWhy? Because (as discussed in this myth-busting article about child sex offenders) the majority of child sex offenders aren't strangers lurking in the bushes or driving around in cars looking to kidnap an unsupervised child.

They are people you know. And they are not always adults.

They are people who regularly spend time with your child.

They are people your children have a trusting relationship with.

They master manipulators who know exactly what to say and do to charm your child into becoming a victim of their depravity.

Keeping a close eye on your kids at the park is not going to protect them from these types of sexual predators.

What can you do to protect them?

Discuss it with them at an age-appropriate level. Knowledge is power. Giving your child knowledge about the kinds of things paedophiles typically do and say to children during the "grooming" process is giving them the power to identify, resist and protect themselves against becoming a victim of abuse.

But therein lies the controversy. How much is too much to tell your child about sexual predators at certain ages? At what point does telling them enough to protect themselves cross the line to scaring the hell out of them?

Without providing any graphic details to her, I started discussing these issues with my daughter at the age of 4 – regularly. First saying simple things like: "Only YOU are aloud to touch your private parts." Then stepping it up to things like: "No matter what anyone says to you, even if they say don't tell mommy, it's very important to tell me if anyone tries to touch your private parts." Along with things like: "Sometimes bad men and bad ladies (emphasis on it's not always men) try and steal kids away, so don't go close to strangers in cars because they might try to pull you in and take you away."

If ever she put herself in vulnerable positions, I would re-iterate these warnings in an effort to get my "be careful" message through loud and clear. The most extreme step I've taken to get the safety message through to her was the day I discovered her sitting at the end of our driveway busily building a pretend campfire – with her back to the somewhat busy road we lived on at the time. It would have been incredibly easy for someone to grab her. And I decided to prove this to her.

I snuck around the other side of the house onto the sidewalk and approached her from behind. In a matter of seconds I bent down, spiraled one arm around her waist, covered her mouth with my other hand, hauled her up off the ground, took three steps backward, and then released her.

It all happened so quickly that she didn't even have time to be scared. The look on her face read pure shock. All I said to her was: "You're very lucky it was me who did that to you, not somebody else." Then I took her hand and led her inside the house.

This got the message through loud and clear. Fast forward 4 years and I know that now more than ever….

Last weekend, my 9 year-old daughter and her friend were happily playing school teachers out the front of our house at the top of our driveway. All of a sudden my daughter came tearing inside the open garage door, up the hallway and breathlessly informed me that a car had pulled up out the front. "Yeah, and…" I said as her bewildered looking friend caught up with her. "It's weird, come on!" she said dragging me up the hallway by the wrist to go and suss it out.

As we walked back out through the garage (my daughter hiding behind me, clinging to me) I saw a car with the rear passenger door closest to our driveway open, and man lurch back into the driver's seat and speed off without bothering to close the back door. Very suspicious.

My daughter's friend still didn't have a clue what all the fuss was about.

I asked the girls if he had said anything to them, to which my daughter replied: "Noooo, we were already inside." Which I could tell by the tone of her voice and the expression on her face really meant: "I wasn't sticking around to see what the possible child abductor had to say… What planet are you on woman!"

"Well, he could have been just visiting the neighbor or something, what made you come running inside?" I asked.

"He drove around the court once and then came back and stopped." she replied.

I was so proud of her at that moment for being aware enough to notice this, and for acting on instinct that something was amiss.

To those naysayers who would admonish me for being too profuse in the warnings I have given my daughter about child predators, I say this:

I truly believe that had my daughter's friend been playing alone outside that day, she would not have gone home safely to her parents that afternoon.

Parents, please take a moment to consider whether your child is informed enough to protect themselves against child predators. In the same situation as above, would your child end up inside with you, or in the back seat of a child predator's car?

Do you think discussing the risks associated with child sex offenders does a young child more harm than good? At what age do you think it is appropriate to begin having these types of discussions with your child?

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Roksi
    August 1, 2011
    8:58 pm

    I agree with you 100%.

    Sex predators are everywhere. Child sex offenders aren’t always the creepy guy in a van – They become teachers, doctors, baby sitters, if they’re not already part of your family/friends – They insinuate themselves into positions that give them frequent access to children, where they are trusted.

    Like the Facebook pedophile rings, that were led by a woman who worked in a daycare center. Knowing exactly how easy it is for a child to be molested and molded into co-operation, I’m terrified of how I will actually trust anyone with my daughter, or leave her with baby sitters.

    The younger you start explaining to them, the better in my opinion. Sure, childhood is a time of innocence, but there’s a lot of people who want to ruin that innocence – Awareness is key, your daughter is aware, and you’ll never know if something bad could have happened, but you definitely know it didn’t.

    I would rather my child be wary of strangers than make themselves a happy target.

    Just to hammer home that it isn’t always men who prey; http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/875123/pregnant-woman-was-part-of-pedophile-ring

    A pregnant woman with 8 kids. Like holy shit, you would never suspect.

    • Cecilia
      August 1, 2011
      9:38 pm

      Yes, that’s the really unsettling part, that so often the predator is someone that you would least suspect.

      I think all parents need to have the “don’t keep secrets” talk with their children from a very young age.

  2. Fi @ Calm Blue Ocean
    August 5, 2011
    3:13 pm

    New visitor from FYBF.

    Your post gave me chills.

    I’m well aware that predators aren’t always strangers, and it’s a real fear I hold for my children. You can watch them like a hawk as much as you like, but that alone will not keep them safe, and the thought of that sickens me.

    My son has just turned 4, and we have already spoken to him about not keeping secrets. Not just from outside the family but within the family as well. I’ve explained the difference between a surprise and a secret (to distinguish that it’s okay to not tell someone what you’ve bought them for their birthday!) – but at this stage I haven’t gone into details as to why we don’t keep secrets. It’s just a blanket rule.

    We’ve also talked about ‘bad people’ that take children away from their parents, and why, when we’re out, he must always stay where I can see him.

    But yeah, it’s the predators in positions of trust that terrify me. The teachers, the sports coaches, the parents of friends.

    • Cecilia
      August 8, 2011
      11:32 am

      Your comments echo what I hear from most parents… that this line of discussion begins at around age four with the “not keeping secrets” angle, and warnings about “bad people”.

      I just hate the fact that sexual predators say things like: “Mommy wants you to keep this a secret, she told me that,” or “If you don’t keep this a secret, I will hurt your mommy.” I made a point of telling my daughter that “bad people” often say things like this, but you have to tell me anyway, no matter what they say.

      PS: Telling your children that they must always stay where you can see them is great, but I always followed this up with: “Remember, if you can’t see me, that means I can’t see you.” So instead of thinking she was close enough to be within my line of sight, she always kept an eye on me to make sure I could see her.

  3. Lala
    August 8, 2011
    5:25 am

    I absolutely agree children need to be made aware of pedophiles lurking in the shadows as early as possible. I think this is more important than sex education, because being molested as a child can literally ruin that child’s life forever, no matter how much therapy he or she goes through. The scar tissue of sexual abuse on a young, developing brain can incorporate into a child’s growing sense of self and become nearly impossible to dig out and correct. The result is all kinds of acts directed by self-hatred like self-cutting, addictions, promiscuity, criminality, suicide attempts and other reckless behaviors. Relationship and career failures or problems are also likely outcomes of childhood sexual abuse.

    But as you point out, pedophiles don’t just lurk in the shadows, and this is such an important aspect of pedophilia that we all need to be aware of. They are found in any profession or situation that deals with children. I would keep my eye on coaches, teachers, pediatricians, daycare providers, and family friends, neighbors or relatives who are unusually interested in children other than their own (because let’s face it, most men – sorry but the fact is that most pedophiles are men – are not especially interested in other people’s children).

    For example, my brother recently told me how his friends have a bachelor friend who owns a swimming pool and babysits their kids for free. I immediately went into alert mode. I asked why a man would babysit kids that had nothing to do with him for free. He said he is just a “really nice guy” (always be wary when you hear this phrase), likes kids a lot and kids like him. (Yeah, I bet). Then I asked what this weirdo did for a living that allowed him to ‘babysit’ other people’s children all day. He said, “I don’t know, something on the internet”. OMG.

    (Sorry for carrying on again – you are just such an inspiring, provocative writer!)

    Another interesting read! :-)
    Lala recently posted..Triangle of DeathMy Profile

    • Cecilia
      August 8, 2011
      10:58 am

      Thanks so much for sharing your insights.

      Yeah… umm… the swimming pool guy would be the last person I’d want babysitting my daughter. Just reading that little bit about him and his free babysitting offer and my mind is screaming WHAT’S HIS AGENDA???

      Imagine how much sexual abuse could be prevented if only parents were more cautious around people they know. For instance, I wouldn’t leave my daughter asleep in a bedroom in someone’s house at a party. You just never know who might go in there while you’re engaged in conversation.

      I mentioned on Twitter last week that a police officer told me a few years back that he had attended a home on Christmas day where an 8 month old baby had been raped by her uncle. She needed surgery. So disgusting and so very sad.

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