Tag: sexual predator

How To Protect Your Children – Keep Your Faith In God

October 19, 20150 Comments

Guidance for teaching your children to be sensitive to potential danger.

By Janel Breitenstein from FamilyLife

Sarah vividly remembers an evening nearly 40 years ago. It was the night her parents discovered that one of their closest family friends, a chosen leader in their local church, had been sexually abusing her.

Her family and his had spent time together every week and even went on vacations together. But one evening, exhausted from evading the pursuits of her abuser for the majority of the day, Sarah (not her real name) had enough. She refused to go to the friend’s home after church that evening, even at her father’s insistence.

Her parents protested because they thought she was being rude.

“I don’t care,” she said.

Then they warned of consequences.

“I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what you do to me. I’m not going in.”

Her mother and father proceeded into the house, humiliated by their 14-year-old’s behavior. Yet later that evening, her mother came into Sarah’s bedroom and asked directly if she had been touched inappropriately. The story of two years’ abuse, degradation, and humiliation poured out.

Unfortunately, far more victims have never told a soul. Not their husbands, their wives, their pastors, parents, or siblings.

Can this be prevented? The following ideas may protect your child from the tragedy of sexual abuse—and its devastating effects on generations to come.

1. Understand what an abuser looks like. Interested in what the profile might look like?

It could be anyone.

Nobody is beyond the power to abuse. Most of us can name at least one person whom we thought, for example, wouldn’t be subject to moral failure … only to discover how wrong we were.

This does not mean that you should live in fear and distrust. However, we should not love in foolishness. We are told to be “shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

One of the pitfalls of the “Stranger Danger” campaign of the 1980’s was the message children received that a “stranger” would be wearing a trench coat, hat, and dark glasses: in essence, that children could identify people who were harmful to them. This is not necessarily the case and often an abuser is someone the child knows.

A more apt concept in The Berenstain Bears Learn about Strangers finds Mama Bear cutting apples for the cubs. One apple that looks gnarled on the outside is perfectly fine on the inside; but another that looks beautiful outwardly is full of worms.

2. “I believe you.” This is a crucial message to communicate. Imagine, for example, that your son or daughter is in a conflict, and you find another adult chastising your child. Rather than asking for the child’s version of the story, you proceed to punish. Now imagine that your child did nothing wrong in that situation and was mistakenly accused.

Your child thinks, If they believed another adult when I didn’t do anything wrong, what will happen when I think something is wrongWhat if it was my fault that this person touched me––or what if I misunderstood what just happened?

Children are far from innocent, and they often try to manipulate us. But they also must feel they will be heard and trusted. Early in life you can try to instill honesty and accuracy in their speech in the smallest communication, so that when it matters, the relationship is there. They can be trusted to tell the truth and you can be trusted to listen.

3. “You can believe me.” Jesus describes Himself as Truth (John 14:6) and Satan as the father of lies. Even simple, understandable, truthful explanations about the world establish a relationship of trust. When your children ask questions about sex, for example, do you pretend you don’t know what they’re talking about? Or, do you communicate that this is an embarrassing topic?

If authenticity is the policy, your children will feel more comfortable approaching you sooner should abuse take place. If you can’t talk about sex without looking ashamed or evasive, you can’t expect children to feel comfortable approaching you about questionable sexual activity.

4. Talk about it. Open communication is a key to stopping abuse before it happens. You have the ability to lovingly prepare your children for experiences you can’t anticipate by speaking of sex and other topics in healthy, secure ways. This not only gives your children confidence with you; it may also grant them confidence in the presence of a potential abuser.

Remind your children that they can always tell you if someone makes them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable—that you won’t be angry with them. Communicate respect for their bodies and help them feel comfortable and articulate about themselves by calling private parts by their proper names.

5. Be alert to signals or changes in behavior. Does a child demonstrate strange conduct or resist spending time with a particular person? Is he suddenly withdrawn or performing poorly in school?

Being careful not to discourage open communication, try to figure out why a child asks certain questions.  After you answer the question honestly, you might say, “That’s an interesting question. What made you want to ask that? I like to hear how you process things and how you think.”

A child’s artwork or premature knowledge of sexual terms may act as clues to their sexual experiences. They may also tip you off to someone who has been introducing inappropriate television programs or magazines to your child.

6. Know the patterns of a perpetrator. Many abusers begin by giving their potential victims unique privileges, gentle touch, or special gifts. This creates a sense of affection, making the victim feel set apart or special. As stated before, it also desensitizes them to further advances. Ask your children to tell you if they receive special gifts or attention.

7. Avoid situations of unnecessary risk. Without acting out of fear, or unreasonably keeping your children from life experiences and relationships, use discernment with your child’s activities. What will the atmosphere and activities be like at the slumber party? Will someone else be riding home with your child and the coach? Are you aware of your children’s location when they’re with friends or family? (By the way, establish an “open door” policy at your own gatherings.)

Thoughtfully, prayerfully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of your boundaries. Choose wisely and then leave the protection of your children in their Father’s capable hands.

8. Ingrain respect. Dan Allender’s invaluable work on the healing of abuse, The Wounded Heart, reported that 29 percent of sexual abuse occurs in relationship with a family member, and that 60 percent of abuse takes place with someone else known by the victim. Instilling respect of women (see 1 Peter 3:7) and a high value of the marriage bed to your children (see Hebrews 13:4) can proactively help prevent abuse––working to keep boys from becoming perpetrators and your children from becoming victims.

Even very young children have opportunities to stand up for weaker children, protecting them and showing them compassion. Boys in particular learn the underlying message of manners––respect––when they give girls special honor by opening doors for them, carrying heavier items, and performing physical chores (tasks otherwise known as chivalry). Girls simultaneously learn that they are worthy of respect and honor no matter their gender or physical strength, and that their bodies are precious gifts.

9. Don’t always believe the best. It is a well-founded biblical principle that we regard others with love and charity. But we also need to train our children that if someone makes them feel uncomfortable in any way––including those in authority or someone they know we like or respect––they can and need to actively, confidently resist that person and tell us.

A common mentality of any abuse victim involves thoughts like, That must have been a mistake. He didn’t mean to do that. I must have done something to make him treat me like that. I must be wrong. Teach children to trust their instincts, and to assertively draw boundaries.

In addition, instruct them that if someone tells them not to tell something which is uncomfortable or relates to their body, that is when it’s most important to tell you.

10. Pray for your children. Pray for their protection according to God’s will, and for the healthy development of their sexuality. Pray for increasing wisdom as you teach and guard them. Pray also that your children will not harm others and will enjoy the freedom God intends within the purity of a marriage relationship. Pray that if your children are in a dangerous situation, they will have wisdom beyond their years, that a predator will be quickly discovered, and that healing and God’s best will flow from even the worst of situations (see Genesis 50:20).

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

How To Protect Kids From Predators, Kidnappers

October 19, 20150 Comments

All parents want to keep their children safe. In the wake of the death of Somer Thompson, the 7-year-old Florida girl who vanished Monday on her mile-long walk home from school, many moms and dads are feeling more anxious than ever about how to protect their kids.

Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler and hostage negotiator, has prepared these tips to help parents train their children to avoid dangerous situations and escape a kidnapper. Van Zandt also makes a free DVD, “Protecting Children from Predators,” available at LiveSecure.org.

10 safety tips every child should know

  1. Do not get into any car unless your parents personally tell you to do so. Also, stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car. You do not need and should not go near a car to talk to the people inside.
  2. Adults and other people who need help should not be asking a child for help; they should be asking other adults. Adults should not be asking you for directions or to look for a “lost puppy,” or telling you that your mother or father is in trouble and that they will take you to them.
  3. Quickly get away from anyone who tries to take you somewhere. Yell or scream, “This person is not my father (or mother).”
  4. You should use the “buddy system” and never go places alone. Always ask your parents’ permission to leave the yard/play area or to go over to someone’s home, and especially always ask permission before you go into someone’s home.
  5. Never, never hitchhike! Do not try to get a ride with people unless your parents have told you it’s OK to do so.
  6. People should not ask you to keep a special secret. If they do, tell your parents or teacher. Also, tell anyone who wants to take your picture, “No,” and quickly tell your parents or teacher.
  7. No one should touch you on the parts of the body covered by your bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.
  8. You can be assertive and you have the right to say “No” to someone, including adults and even relatives or friends who try to take you somewhere against your will, touch you or make you feel uncomfortable in ANY WAY.
  9. NOTE: Many parents use a special code word that only the child knows to convey a message should someone other than a parent ask a child to accompany them anywhere.
  10. THE YELL: Practice a “special” yell. It is low, loud and long. It tells the person trying to hurt the child, “I know what to do! I’m not an easy victim!” It tells everyone within the sound of the child’s voice, “I need help!” It gets the child going, it breaks the “spell.” A child should not panic and freeze, thereby becoming immobile in an emergency. When you yell you take a deep breath, thereby getting oxygen and energy to your brain and muscles. Your own yell can give you courage and get your feet moving when you need to run away!

School bus stop safety issues

  1. Parents should ensure that if possible, an adult waits with children at school bus stops (not always possible with one-parent families or where both parents work), but something could be worked out with all parents of children at the bus stop to be there on a rotating basis.
  2. Know the path your child takes to and from home to the school bus stop.
  3. Tell your children to avoid short cuts through woods, alleys, parks, or other areas where they could be alone.
  4. Identify safe houses along the way that your child could run to or into for help if needed.
  5. Insure your child does not have his or her name on a backpack, etc., as this would enable a potential abductor to call out to the child by name.
  6. If children feels concerned for their safety, they should always tell their parents and the bus driver of any such concern.
  7. If approached on the way to or from the bus stop or at the bus stop, tell your parents, the bus driver and school officials.
  8. Report any suspicious vehicle. Write down the license number and provide it to school and law enforcement officials.
  9. Stand away from any vehicle that stops near the bus stop and do not allow yourself to come close to or enter the vehicle of someone you don’t want to.
  10. Run from anyone displaying a weapon. Do this while throwing books, yelling and making as much noise as you can. Under no circumstances go with an abductor. Kick, bite, and no matter what the threat, do not go along with your kidnapper. Once he takes you away, your chances of survival greatly diminish.

How to escape a kidnapper — things every child should know

  1. Children should not to be afraid to tell their parents or a trusted adult or teacher if they feel threatened, even if someone has told them not to talk. If victimized, it is never their fault and never something they should be ashamed of or something that they hide from their parents or other caregivers. Tell your children you love them and that if they disappear, no matter what their kidnapper says, you will never stop loving them and you will never stop looking for them.
  2. Never to go with anyone you don’t want to, and don’t let someone take you away from where the potential kidnapper first approaches you. (This and Tip No. 3 below are the most important things a child can do to stop from becoming the victim of a kidnapper.)
  3. Yell, scream, fight and run from any potential abductor. No matter what the assailant says, make as much noise and attract as much attention as you can.
  4. If someone tries to lure you into a vehicle, run the opposite way the vehicle is facing, forcing the kidnapper to turn around to chase the child.
  5. Run to your home, a neighbor’s home, into a store or other public place yelling that someone is trying to kidnap them.
  6. If on your bike, grip the bike. The kidnapper can’t get both you and your bike into a car. If you’re on the street and you can’t run, grab a street light, traffic sign, trash can, mail box or other fixed object while yelling for help.
  7. If the kidnapper points a gun at you, run anyway. Most kidnappers don’t want to attract attention by firing a gun and they probably couldn’t hit you anyway. It’s better to be wounded and left to get help from others then to go off with a kidnapper.
  8. If grabbed, twist your body and scream, “This is not my dad (or my mom)!”
  9. If your assailant grabs you by your coat or backpack, twist out of his grip, leaving him with the coat or backpack as you run and scream toward another nearby adult. Attract the attention of this adult by grabbing and holding on to him or her.
  10. If forced into the front seat of a four-door car or van, immediately jump into the back seat, open the rear door and escape. (Don’t put on a seatbelt as this will obviously slow your escape time.)
  11. If placed in the trunk of a car, look for the emergency trunk release lever and pull it and escape. If you can’t find this, pull out the wires to the tail lights on both sides of the trunk, thereby attracting attention to the vehicle when the stop lights don’t work. (Parents, tell police that your child knows how to do this; therefore, the police will be looking for cars with malfunctioning tail lights.)
  12. Grab the keys from the kidnapper’s car and throw them out the window.
  13. If in traffic, step on the accelerator and make the car crash into the car in front of it.
  14. Honk the horn and try to force the kidnapper to wreck the car.
  15. Do not eat or drink anything your kidnapper gives to you. (It may be drugged.)
  16. If your kidnapper takes you into a store, knock things down, break bottles, yell and scream that you have been kidnapped.
  17. If you’re held in a house, flash the lights on the front porch off and on. If in an upper apartment, flood the bathroom to cause water to flood the apartment below.
  18. Never stop trying to escape and always take the opportunity to use a phone to call 911 and ask for help.
  19. Parents, discuss and practice these things with your children. While doing everything we can to prevent our children from becoming the victim of a kidnapper, we need also equip them with the above information to help them escape should they be taken by an assailant. Information is key and can save the life of your child.
  20. As Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

For a free copy of Clint Van Zandt’s DVD, “Protecting Children from Predators,” visit LiveSecure.org.

Child Sexual Abuse Warning signs

October 19, 20150 Comments

What to look for in adults and children

What is considered child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse includes touching and non-touching activity. Some examples of touching activity include:

  • touching a child’s genitals or private parts for sexual pleasure
  • making a child touch someone else’s genitals, play sexual games or have sex putting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or penis) inside the vagina, in the mouth or in the anus of a child for sexual pleasure

Some examples of non-touching activity include:

  • showing pornography to a child
  • deliberately exposing an adult’s genitals to a child
  • photographing a child in sexual poses
  • encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
  • inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom

 

As well as the activities described above, there is also the serious and growing problem of people making and downloading sexual images of children on the Internet. To view child abuse images is to participate in the abuse of a child. Those who do so may also be abusing children they know. People who look at this material need help to prevent their behaviour from becoming even more serious.

 

Warning signs in children and adolescents of possible child sexual abuse

Children often show us rather than tell us that something is upsetting them. There may be many reasons for changes in their behaviour, but if we notice a combination of worrying signs it may be time to call for help or advice.
What to watch out for in children:

  • Acting out in an inappropriate sexual way with toys or objects
  • Nightmares, sleeping problems
  • Becoming withdrawn or very clingy
  • Becoming unusually secretive
  • Sudden unexplained personality changes, mood swings and seeming insecure
  • Regressing to younger behaviours, e.g. bedwetting
  • Unaccountable fear of particular places or people
  • Outburst of anger
  • Changes in eating habits
  • New adult words for body parts and no obvious source
  • Talk of a new, older friend and unexplained money or gifts
  • Self-harm (cutting, burning or other harmful activities)
  • Physical signs, such as, unexplained soreness or bruises around genitals or mouth, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy
  • Running away
  • Not wanting to be alone with a particular child or young person

Any one sign doesn’t mean that a child was or is being sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you should begin to ask questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:

  • During a divorce
  • Death of a family member or pet
  • Problems at school or with friends
  • Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events

Physical warning signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare, however, if you see these signs, take your child to a doctor. Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

 

  • Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
  • Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs that an adult may be using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons

The signs that an adult is using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons may not be obvious. We may feel uncomfortable about the way they play with the child, or seem always to be favouring them and creating reasons for them to be alone. There may be cause for concern about the behaviour of an adult or young person if they:

  • Refuse to allow a child sufficient privacy or to make their own decisions on personal matters.
  • Insist on physical affection such as kissing, hugging or wrestling even when the child clearly does not want it.
  • Are overly interested in the sexual development of a child or teenager.
  • Insist on time alone with a child with no interruptions.
  • Spend most of their spare time with children and have little interest in spending time with people their own age.
  • Regularly offer to baby-sit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone.
  • Buy children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason.
  • Frequently walk in on children/teenagers in the bathroom.
  • Treat a particular child as a favourite, making them feel ‘special’ compared with others in the family.
  • Pick on a particular child.

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

How To Protect Your Children – Recognize Red Flags

October 16, 20150 Comments

Only one in five kids who have been sexually abused will report it, says Robin Castle, child sexual abuse prevention manager at Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. (The majority of survivors wait until they’re older to talk about it.) “It’s very, very hard for a child to disclose, even under the best of circumstances,” she explains. So you need to watch for warning signs. “If your child tells you that he doesn’t want to be around a particular person or take part in certain outings, take him seriously,” says Lee, who speaks from personal experience. As a child she was abused repeatedly by an uncle who told her no one would love her if they found out what she’d done. She kept quiet but tearfully dreaded annual gatherings at the family’s summer cabin.

Some children may show physical signs such as unexplained urinary infections, redness, or swelling in the genital area. Other kids may have stomachaches, headaches, or sudden bedwetting. Behavioral signs can include angry outbursts, sleep problems, withdrawal, or a drop in grades. Sexual precociousness is another worrisome sign; perhaps the child starts making sexual comments or showing inappropriate sexual behaviors. Of course, none of these actions points specifically to sexual abuse, but they may warrant a consultation with a child psychologist or a pediatrician who’s been trained in child abuse.

Above all else, keep this in mind: “If you suspect that your child—or any child—has been abused, the most important thing is to not investigate it on your own,” insists Johnson. Extensive questioning may jeopardize an ensuing investigation. Instead, immediately report your suspicion to your state child-protection-services agency (find a state-by-state list at childwelfare.gov).

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

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