How to be your own private investigator
First of all, what actually constitutes child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse can include —but is not necessarily limited to—the following:
1. Vaginal or anal intercourse
2. Oral or manual stimulation of the genitals
3. Exposing adult genitals in the presence of a child
4. Inappropriate touching or fondling
5. Any adult showing a child sexually explicit material in any form, such as in print form, movies and videos or on the Internet.
How can a child predator do this?
1. Gaining an adult’s trust in order to be near their child
2. Gentle persuasion to “seduce” the child into sexual acts
3. Giving gifts, unusual amounts of attention and special favors to the child in expectation of sexual gratification. This is known as “grooming,” and is used to gain the child’s trust.
4. Forcing sexual acts by threats and physical force.
How can I know if my child has been the victim of a sex crime?
1. A change in personality such as a sudden mood swing, excessive crying, bad dreams, insomnia, problems at school, sudden aggressiveness, infantile behavior, bed-wetting, fearfulness, clinging, withdrawal, and/or rebelliousness.
2. A change in their toilet habits
3. Uncharacteristic fear of particular activities, locations or people
4. Inexplicable rashes, rawness, bruising, itching, pain, bleeding, and/or fluid in their “private parts.”
What do I do if my child tells me he or she has been sexually abused?
1. First of all, BELIEVE YOUR CHILD! Children rarely, if ever, lie about being sexually abused.
2. Just as importantly, assure your child that this is NOT their fault! Make sure he or she clearly understands that this is 100 percent the offender’s fault, and not the child’s. Convey this to your child no matter how many times it takes, no matter how long it takes. Remember, there is NO SUCH THING as “consent” when a child is sexually abused.
3. Hard as it is, try to remain calm and LISTEN to what your child has to say. Most parents’ immediate reaction is to fly into a rage and seek their own form of justice. That’s completely natural and very understandable. However, the MOST IMPORTANT THING is helping your child get through this. Remember, you won’t be able to help your child at all if you’re locked up in jail. Your child’s healing is more important than your own pain and rage.
4. Make sure he or she knows they’ve done the right thing by telling you, and make sure they know that they can come to you ANYTIME and tell you absolutely ANYTHING. Give them your unconditional love and support.
5. Get outside help for your child. It’s a major mistake to think that you can handle this alone. Seek appropriate medical care for your child, either through a pediatrician’s office or a trip to your nearest hospital emergency room. Obtain professional counseling for your child and yourself, with an established professional who has experience in treating survivors of child sexual abuse.
6. Notify the police immediately and cooperate with them, as well as whatever appropriate child protection or social services organizations are brought into the investigation.
7. Respect your child’s right to dignity and privacy.
I just found out that someone else’s child has been sexually abused. What do I do?
1. If the abuser is not the child’s parent, then tell the child’s parents immediately.
2. Contact the police with what you know. Don’t rely on this child’s family to necessarily do the right thing.
3. Respect this child’s right to privacy, dignity and respect.
I just found out that a respected member of my community/social circle has a history as a child abuser, but was never prosecuted. What do I do?
1. First of all, MAKE SURE that the information you have is absolutely correct and not just gossip. There are liability issues here, as well as a moral responsibility to not ruin an innocent person’s reputation or life.
2. Never leave your child alone with this person.
3. Discretely contact others within this circle of friends with what you absolutely KNOW to be true.
What can I do to prevent MY child from being the victim of sexual abuse?
Good old fashioned common sense works best. America’s parents need to “step up to the plate” and assume responsibility for their children.
1. CHECK YOUR SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY!! Sexual predators come in all economic levels, races, ages, religions and occupations. Some sexual predators are women. Whether you live in a multi-million dollar gated community, “the projects,” or the trailer park, there is an equal chance that you could have a sexual predator living or working in your neighborhood. We recommend the nationwide sex offender registry at www.familywatchdog.us
2. Don’t allow your child to play in the front yard alone or in the back yard unattended. The same rule applies for walking alone through the neighborhood (or anywhere else, for that matter) or waiting alone at the school bus stop. Expect your child to balk at this. Too bad. Parenting isn’t a popularity contest and YOU’RE the one in charge.
3. Don’t allow your child to spend time in another person’s house (birthday parties, sleepovers, play dates, etc.) without knowing the adults’ names and street address. Then check them on the sex offender registry. Same goes for THEIR neighbors. Don’t be timid about asking mutual friends and neighbors about the adults in this home.
4. Use these same suggestions in No.3 with regards to hiring a babysitter. Check them in the sex offender registry. If you have the means to run a criminal background check, do so. The same goes for this potential babysitter’s “significant other,” friends and family members. Require references before hiring and then follow up with each one. Talk to these references directly. Once your baby sitter is hired, forbid them from allowing their friends, family members of significant others into your home or onto your property. Drop in unannounced to see how your child/children are doing and to ensure that the babysitter is actually doing their job. Be sure to ask your child/children how they felt about their experience with the babysitter and LISTEN to what they have to say.
5. Supervise your child’s computer/internet use. Establish ironclad rules for their computer use and enforce those rules. Know who your child is communicating with on line. Know where else (outside of your home) your child has access to computers. Educate your child to online “stranger danger.”
OK, I just checked my sex offender registry and OMG there is a convicted sexual predator working or living in my neighborhood. Now what do I do?
1. First of all, don’t become part of the problem. By no means should you harass or confront this predator in any way.
2. Always remember that this is a convicted sexual predator. Make sure your family is aware of this person and his/her criminal history. DO NOT let your guard down, invite this person into your home or allow your children to go into his or her home. DO NOT allow your child to be alone with this person for any reason.
3. If you see this predator engaging in behavior which could pose a danger to children (such as operating a day care center, Little League, volunteering at a school, church or other youth organization) contact your local police department immediately. Speak to the person in charge of sex crimes and tell them what’s going on. Predators cannot be counted on to follow the rules of their parole and the police usually lack the manpower to keep tabs on every sex offender in the community.
4. Don’t allow yourself or a family member to get involved in this person’s drama – “I’m just misunderstood / I was framed/ I’m a Christian now, etc.” Sexual predators are very adept in manipulating people by playing the victim. Make sure your family simply steers clear of this person.
Can I assume that convicted child predators are never allowed to participate in Halloween? Never allowed on school or church property?
Sadly, no. Parole laws vary from state to state and are often not even enforced. Sexual predators can’t be trusted to follow the rules and the police simply lack the manpower to keep tabs on every sex offender in their community.
Can I assume that my child is safe from child predators at church? At a private or parochial school? In a public school? At Grandma’s retirement home?
Sadly, no. Regulations on performing background checks at churches, retirement centers and schools vary from state to state. Enforcement in states that do have background check requirements doesn’t always happen. Assume nothing.
My child’s predator has been arrested/convicted/isolated from my child. Can I assume that it’s all over now and that my child will completely forget it ever happened?
Can I assume this person is going to be locked up or watched by the police forever?
Absolutely not. Assume nothing.