In December 2010, I watched with my mouth gaping open as Oprah announced that one in six boys will be molested before they are eighteen. One in six. My first son was two. My second son was due in three months.
A close friend works day in and day out counseling molesters. I asked him – is the statistic true???? One in six??? He said, “Oh, no. That’s definitely wrong.” Immediately a wave of relief rushed over me. “It’s one in five.” The words pummeled me like a sledge hammer.
The statistic stained my mind and my heart. I can’t “un-hear” it and I can’t “un-know” the truth of what’s out there. I started counting boys and girls everywhere I went. I counted the boys in the choir as they sang Christmas carols. Eighteen boys. I leaned to my partner – “Did you count the boys? There are eighteen. Statistically, that means that either three or four of these boys have been, are, or will be molested.”
In Oprah’s interview with four convicted molesters – they explain how they meticulously crafted their plans. Children are observed, selected, and groomed to be “good victims.” Molesters aim for vulnerable targets. They patiently lurk like IED’s – hidden, appearing for all the world like something they are not. These monsters appear like something innocuous, something trustworthy, something approachable. Until they detonate. But then it’s too late.
[bctt tweet=”Molesters patiently lurk like IED’s – hidden, appearing for all the world like something they are not. #endbeforeitstarts” username=”@SpoilMy”]
I can’t take control of every situation. But this, I longed to control. Ten percent of molested children are molested by strangers. (cite) Parents, therefore, know and trust their child’s molester in ninety percent of molestation cases. The molester observed, selected, and groomed your family and child, in your presence.
You can’t control his charm and charisma that furtively beckon your trust. But you can make your child less desirable and less groom-able.
[bctt tweet=”You can make your child less desirable to molesters and less groom-able. #endbeforeitstarts” username=”@SpoilMy”]
Specifically,”grooming is the tactic of gradually and methodically building trust with a child – and the adults around them – to gain increased access and alone time with their future victim.” The reason that methodical grooming is so important to molesters is to reduce the chance that a child will tell or be believed; to potentially convince the child to participate willingly; and to gain a level of trust with the parents.” (emphasis added, cite)
Grooming is cold, calculated, and methodical; it progresses in stages: target the child; gain the child’s and parents’ trust; fill a need; isolation; sexualize the relationship; and maintain control of the child. This is an article that does a great job describing the grooming process.
Children who are viewed as desirable targets include those with perceived “vulnerabilities such as physical or mental disabilities, single-parent families, low self-confidence, or emotional neediness. They will look in places with high concentrations of children – schools, malls, playgrounds etc.” (cite)
Parents help build self confidence and self esteem in our children. We need to be constantly vigilant to make sure that we are being successful. Continually nurturing our connection and trust with our children is one of the best things we can do to make our children less desirable targets for molesters.
Molesters learn about the victim to gain trust. They maneuver to give the victim attention. This flows naturally into filling a need. Now the molester can easily spot ways to provide the child with attention and fill a need (possibly a ride home from school, babysitting, etc.) Make sure that all needs are filled. Decline offers from coaches or others to provide transportation or additional time alone with your child.
Finally, molesters want children that they can manipulate into secrecy. Teach your child never to keep “secrets” of any kind for any reason. Keep only “surprises” because they are things that, once revealed, make somebody happy.
Teach your child from an early age that his body is his own and he alone has control over it. Since both of my sons were newborns, I told them if I was doing something to their body. “Ok baby, now I’m going to lay you down to change your diaper…” They’ve learned what they can expect to happen to their bodies.
Children can’t learn if we don’t teach. Molesters teach children that sexual touching and exploration is completely normal. If we haven’t talked to our children about what is normal at what age, our children won’t know any different. We must constantly have age appropriate conversations with our children about what is healthy and normal and what is not ok. We are at an age where we have conversation about “good touches” and “bad touches.” Explain that even if the touch feels good – it can still be a bad touch. As we have these conversations, my boys look at me like I have fourteen heads…because, Thank God, they don’t have a context for what I’m saying. But if they are ever in a situation, they will know what to do.
Molesters work hard to ensure that either 1. children don’t tell or 2. that they won’t be believed. Remember that molesters groom entire families using charm, charisma and finesse. With the children they may threaten harm to the child or a family member. As few as 40% of incidents of child molestation are ever reported. And the main reason is that children fear they will not be believed.
As I watched Oprah, I vowed to myself that December day: I will always choose to believe my children. “Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 4% to 8% of all reported cases. Most fabricated reports are made by adults involved in custody disputes or by adolescents.” (cite)
Always let you child know that you will believe him. When I first told my older son this, he said, “So if I told you I was attacked by a green monster, you would believe me?”
[bctt tweet=”Always let you child know that you will believe him if he claims he was molested. #endbeforeitstarts” username=”@SpoilMy”]
After I giggled, I reassured him “If you tell; if you tell me you were attacked by a green monster, I will believe you.” No matter what. I will always choose to believe you, my son.
This month an amazing group of bloggers is joining together to share stories and take a stand. Click on the image above or here for more information on child abuse and to get links for all of these great stories. Some stories are personal, others will share tips on keeping your children safe, or even how to start a conversation with your children about personal safety.
**Please know that I nor my boys have been personally touched by child abuse. I’m writing this post to share information to hopefully add to strategies parents already have in place to keep their children safe from abuse. I am in no way saying or implying that if a child has been molested it was due to any failure on the part of the parents.