It's every parent's worst nightmare—finding out that your child has been a victim of a pedophile. It's something that will traumatize their child for life, and will harm their ability to have a normal relationship.
When parents find out that their child has been victimized, they often blame themselves. If only they could have prevented it, or if only they knew what was going on. They replay things over and over again, wondering where they went wrong.
The FBI has performed a lot of studies about telltale signs of a child predator. As a parent, it's crucial to know what the warning signs are so that you can keep your child safe. Make sure you become aware of when to worry by keeping an eye for these signs below.
The person in question tries to be around kids, especially if it means being alone with them.
People who are looking to victimize kids will often go out of their ways to find themselves in the presence of children.
In many cases, they will do this by choosing a job that puts them around kids. They may try to become scout leaders, babysitters, or teachers as a way to gain access to children.
It's also not uncommon to find out that a predator may try to befriend children around the neighborhood. They may offer treats, toys, or just casually chat with them until they gain the child's trust—and the family members' trust too.
The person in question has a special interest in your child.
A predator could be anyone, including relatives or babysitters or teachers. However, most people you know will not be child molesters. One of the key warning signs of someone targeting your child is their interest in them.
They may seem to be particularly interested in your child's development or your child's life. If you notice someone seemingly fascinated with your child, you should be concerned. There could be ulterior motives afoot.
Your child regularly is told that they are "special," "talented," or otherwise "different" than others by the potential predator.
When a predator sees a child they want to molest or otherwise harm, they will try to get the child to trust them and like them. Most of the time, they do this by trying to talk up the child.
At times, they will also try to tell your child that others don't understand them or that others will not be able to be as good to them as this. If you hear your child talk about this, then they are very likely being groomed by a child predator.
"Grooming" is the way that predators work their way into a child's life in order to ensure that their crimes will not be found out.
The person in question regularly pushes boundaries with you or your child.
When a predator of this nature is feeling gutsy, they may start to cross boundaries that have no right to be crossed. Should this happen, confronting them and cutting off contact is usually the best way to deal with them.
For example, they may try to force a child onto their lap despite the child feeling uncomfortable about it. They may start to point out sexual topics with your child despite your discomfort. Or, they may start to get pushy about spending time with your kid.
Like other sexual predators, a child predator may have entitlement issues.
Predators have a tendency of behaving the way they do because they feel entitled to do so. To try to clear their path to children, they often will try to act like people have incurred a debt to them.
This often will take a transactional approach. So, a predator might say, "Listen, I tutored your child at school, so now I need them to clean my house tonight."
In many cases, the same tactic will be used to keep a victim quiet. To a child, a predator may say something along the lines of, "I gave you all these toys, so you can't tell your parents what we did."
They might make remarks about a child's developing body.
When a normal person sees a child growing up, they may say things like, "I remember Sally when she was only three years old! It's insane to see how much she's grown."
Predators, on the other hand, may start remarking about an adolescent's breast growth or muscle development. Creepy? Absolutely, and a sign that you should be worried.
The person flirts with your child on social media.
This is one of the most common ways a child predator finds new victims, and that's why it's important to protect your child from online predators. If you notice an adult talking to your child, you need to tell them that an adult flirting with them is nothing but a gross predator.
The child victim of a sexual predator will only realize the dangers when it's too late. So, talk to them about it. It could save them from serious danger.
They frequently walk in when children are in the bathroom or in the bedroom.
Does a certain person seem like they really have "bad luck" when it comes to walking in on children who are using the bathroom or getting changed? That might not be bad luck at all.
Many predators will make a point of "accidentally" walking in on children while they change. This is, of course, so they can get a peep show without anyone noticing.
It almost seems like the person is too good to be true.
Predators will do whatever they can to appear trustworthy to parents and kids at the beginning of their predation. They may offer gifts to parents to get in their good graces, offer to babysit for free, or may act as trusted companions to the entire family.
Though there are exceptions, most people who are overly kind act that way because they have an ulterior motive.
The person has a house that's outfitted with toys, but doesn't have children.
One of the most disturbing signs of a child predator is when they start creating a setup that's designed to lure in children. In extreme cases, the predator will go so far as to create a "lair" that is filled with toys and other child-friendly activities.
If you notice that someone has a playroom but doesn't have children, it's wise to stay away.