Part of helping to prevent child sexual abuse is being able to identify other people’s unsafe behaviour around children.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to identify people who sexually abuse children. This is because people who harm children do not look any different than other people, and are most often people known and trusted by the family. Often, they are also members of the family and may be a child or young person themselves.
People who sexually abuse children typically ‘groom’ or prepare the family and child so they can carry out the abuse. They first usually gain the trust of the family, and then move on to create a special bond with the child, and make opportunities to be alone with the child. This process is called ‘grooming’.
Sometimes children are threatened to keep quiet about the abuse, and other times the child is encouraged to see the behaviour as a special or positive thing.
The first thing adults can do to identify possible ‘grooming’ is to look beyond WHO the people are around our kids, and focus on WHAT they are doing. While it is often difficult to see, there are some behaviours that might indicate that someone is ‘grooming’ you or your child for sexual abuse. Look out for people who:
Ruth Davy-Fundraising Manager, HELP Auckland