In Part 1 of “Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles,” we looked at the profile of a pedophile. But knowing against whom you need to protect your teen is only one part of the process. Putting up safeguards cannot stop with knowledge: You need to communicate your concerns to your teen, provide multiple escape routes, and set up protective fences to keep predators from gaining access to your teenager.
Before a situation arises, your teen needs to know the warning signs to look for in the kinds of dangerously manipulative situations that can lead to sexual molestation. One memorable way to explain this process to your teen son or daughter can be to list the four “Fs” of pedophiles:
Friendship: Referred to as “grooming,” the pedophile singles out a future victim by seemingly innocent gestures usually associated with friendship. Examples include gifts, extra attention, and special outings. Grooming can also include exposure to sexually explicit material or even some inappropriate touch.
Fantasy: The pedophile appeals to the victim’s desire for the emotional security of a long-term loving relationship, something especially easy to do when the victim lacks such relationships at home. The offer of confidential counseling can set the stage for the next step in the process.
Fear: Since the teen has already shared personal information with the predator, fear of communicating those private details with parents or peers can help them produce willingness—or at least silence—in their victim.
Force: While few sexual predators who victimize minors carry guns, they often physically exert force on their victims in order to attain their sexual goals.
Your teen needs to know that if they get trapped in such an abusive relationship, there is a way out. Often, like other victims of domestic violence or repeated sexual assault, children and teens can feel trapped. Of course, this is by design of the predator, who uses many manipulative techniques to ensure their continued access and safety of their secret.
Your teen needs to know that no matter what kind of secrets are threatened exposure, you will love them and protect them from the predator. Your teen also needs to know that they’re protected by the law, and sex offenders are typically guilty until proven innocent, so they won’t be free to continually victimize your teen. Your teen also needs to know that if they tell you they feel uncomfortable around someone, you will not question their discretion or motivation or blame them for inappropriate sexual gestures: You will help them to get away.
Understanding the profile of a pedophile and engaging your teen in proactive communication as well as providing escape routes out of potentially abusive relationships will go a long way toward safeguarding your teen against sexual predators. In part 3 of this series, we’ll discuss some reasonable protective fences you can put up in order to help prevent such situations from arising in the first place.
Read the Series
- Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles, Part 1: Profile of a Pedophile
- Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles, Part 2: Protections Against Abuse
- Safeguarding Your Teen Against Pedophiles, Part 3: Reducing Opportunities for Abuse
Photo credits: Top © bertys30 / Fotolia. Bottom © Martinan / Fotolia.