1. Know that most child molesters are known to the children they abuse. Thirty percent of children who have been sexually abused were abused by a family member, and 60 percent were abused by an adult they knew who was not a family member. That means only 10 percent of children who are sexually abused were targeted by a total stranger.[2]
  2. In most cases, the child molester turns out to be someone known to the child through school or another activity, such as a neighbor, teacher, coach, member of the clergy, music instructor, or babysitter.[3]
  • Family members like fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, stepparents, and so on may also be sexual predators.
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    2. Know the common characteristics of a child molester. While anyone can turn out to be a child molester, the majority of child molesters are men, regardless of whether their victims are male or female.[4] Many sexual predators have a history of abuse in their own past, either physical or sexual.
    3. Some also have mental illness, such as a mood or personality disorder.[5]
    • Heterosexual and homosexual men are equally likely to be child molesters. The idea that homosexual men are more likely to be child molesters is a complete myth.[6]
    • Female child molesters are more likely to abuse boys than girls.
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    2. Be aware of common behaviours demonstrated by child molesters. Pedophile child molester often don’t display as much interest in adults as they do in children. They may have jobs that allow them to be around children of a certain age group, or contrive other ways to spend time with children by acting as a coach, babysitter or neighbour trying to help.[7]
    3. Child molesters tend to talk about or treat children as though they are adults. They might refer to a child as they would refer to an adult friend or lover. [8]
    • Pedophile child molesters often say they love all children or feel as though they are still children.
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    2. Look for signs of grooming. The term “grooming” refers to the process the child molester undertakes to gain a child’s trust, and sometimes the parents’ trust as well. Over the course of months or even years, a child molester will increasingly become a trusted friend of the family, offering to babysit, take the child shopping or on trips, or spend time with the child in other ways. Many child molesters won’t actually begin abusing a child until trust has been gained. Some may use others opinions around them to back up their trustworthiness in order to take children shopping.
    3. Child molesters look for children who are vulnerable to their tactics because they lack emotional support or aren’t getting enough attention at home or will try to convince the parents their children are safe with them and that they are not going far. The child molester will attempt to step in as the “parent” figure for the child.
    • Some child molesters prey on the children of single parents who aren’t available to provide as much supervision or convince parents that they are nice enough people to supervise without them.
    • A child molester will often use a range of games, tricks, activities and language to gain trust and/or deceive a child. These include: keeping of secrets (secrets are valuable to most kids, being seen as something “adult” and a source of power), sexually explicit games, fondling, kissing, touching, sexually suggestive behaviour, exposing a child to pornographic material, coercion, bribery, flattery, and—worst of all—affection and love. Be aware that these tactics are ultimately used to isolate and confuse your child.

    Part 2 of 2: Protecting Your Child from Predators

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      Find out whether pedophiles live in your neighborhood. You can use the US Department of Justice National Sex Offender Database (located at to determine whether any registered sex offenders live in your area. All you have to do is enter your zip code and do a search, and you’ll be able to see where child molesters might live.

      • You can also do a search for individual names to see if a specific person is a sex offender.
      • It’s good to be aware of potential predators, but realize that it is illegal to take any kind of action against registered sex offender who has served his or her sentence.
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      Supervise your child’s extracurricular activities. Being as involved as possible in your child’s life is the best way to guard against child molesters. They will look for a child who is vulnerable and who isn’t getting a lot of attention from his or her parents or will convince parents they are of no danger to their child. Show up at games, practices and rehearsals, chaperone field trips and trips out, and spend time getting to know the adults in your child’s life. Make it clear that you’re an involved, present parent.

      • If you can’t be there for a trip or outing, make sure at least two adults you know well will be chaperoning a trip.
      • Don’t leave your child alone with adults you don’t know well. Even relatives can pose a threat. The key is to be as present as possible.
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      Set up a nanny cam if you hire a babysitter. There are times when you won’t be able to be present, so use other tools to make sure your child is safe. Set up a hidden camera in your home so that inappropriate activity will be detected. No matter how well you think you know someone, you need to take precautions for your child’s safety.

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      Teach your child about staying safe online. Make sure your child knows that predators often pose as children or teenagers in order to lure children in online. Monitor your child’s use of the internet, keeping rules in place to limit his or her “chat” time. Have regular discussions with your child about whom he or she is communicating with online.

      • Be sure your child knows never to send pictures to a person he or she met online, or meet someone he or she is communicating with online.
      • Know that children are often secretive about online behaviour, especially when encouraged by others to keep secrets, so you’ll need to be vigilant about staying involved in your child’s online activity.
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      Make sure your child is feeling emotionally supported. [9]

      • Child molesters will ask the children to keep it secret from their parents.
      • Ensure your children understands that if someone has asked them to keep a secret from you that it isn’t because the child will get into trouble but the person who has asked them to keep the secret knows what they are doing to them is wrong.
      • Since children who don’t get a lot of attention are especially vulnerable to predators, make sure you are spending a lot of time with your child and that he or she feels supported. Take the time to talk to your child every day and work toward building an open, trusting relationship.
      • Express interest in all of your child’s activities, including schoolwork, extracurriculars, hobbies, and other interests.
      • Let your child know that he or she can tell you anything, and that you’re always willing to talk.
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      Teach your child to recognize inappropriate touching. Many parents use the “good touch, bad touch, secret touch” method. It involves teaching your child that there are some appropriate touches, like pats on the back or high fives; there are some unwelcome or “bad’ touches, like hits or kicks; and there are also secret touches, which are touches that the child is told to keep a secret. Use this method or another one to teach your child that some touches aren’t good, and when these happen, he or she should tell you immediately.[10]

      • Teach your child that no one is allowed to touch him or her in private areas. Many parents define private areas as those that would be covered by a bathing suit.
      • Tell your child to say “no” and walk away if someone tries to touch him or her in a private area.
      • Tell your child to come to you immediately if someone touches him or her the wrong way.
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      Recognize when something is out of sync with your child. If you notice your child is acting differently, pursue the issue to find out what is wrong. Regularly asking your child questions about his or her day, including asking whether any “good,” “bad,” or “secret” touches happened that day, will help open the lines of communication. Never dismiss it if your child tells you he or she was touched inappropriately or doesn’t trust an adult. Trust your child first.

      • Never dismiss a child’s claims because the adult in question is a valued member of society or appears incapable of such things. That’s exactly what a child molester wants.
      • Remember that the most important thing you can do to protect your child is to pay attention to them. Assess their needs and desires, talk to them, and in essence, just be the best parent you possibly can. Bottom line to remember: If you don’t pay attention to your child, someone else will.

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