Did you know that there are places on the internet that teach a person how to groom a child for sexual abuse? It’s true. I know the police are trying to monitor the internet for child porn, so I did not look for myself.
As decent adults, parents, teachers, and church leaders, we need to know the enemy. Be aware that anyone could be a child sex offender, but there are some common characteristics that are typical of many pedophiles. They are more likely to be male, but women abuse, too. They tend to be successful, kind, polite, and concerned. Some may live in a fantasy world, believing they love the child and the child feels the same way about them. Thus, the child gets confused about the difference between loving affection and sexuality.
Pedophiles groom children for abuse in several stages. First, they look for a child who seems vulnerable. Maybe the family is going through a divorce or maybe the parents work long hours leaving the child alone. Abusers might look for a lonely child who is not popular. Then he builds a relationship with the child through play or other age appropriate bonding behavior. He starts to desensitize the child to touch through such things as hugs or tickling. By this time the child and maybe the parent trusts the pedophile and allows the abuser to spend time with the child alone. Then the sexual abuse starts. The abuser makes the child feel responsible, so to tell would mean the child would be in trouble. For most children, the shame of child abuse is enough to keep them from telling. Often, there is a frightening threat that solidifies the child’s desire to keep the secret.
Children are vulnerable, so it is up to adults to protect them. The pain and trauma of child sexual abuse can last a lifetime. It can pass to the next generation. We must continue to monitor those who are left alone with children.