Many parents resist putting up protective fences to reduce opportunities for pedophiles to target their children. Why are such safeguards important? Vulnerability and availability rank most highly as determinants of which children are victimized by these predators.
In an effort to reduce already convicted sex offenders’ access to children or teens, convicted sex offenders can be easily looked up by either name or address, complete with a recent headshot and description of their offense. It’s a good idea to show your teenager pictures of registered sex offenders in your area and to make sure all coaches and youth leaders have submitted to and passed recent background checks. However, it’s certainly not enough: According to some studies, only 1 in 10 child victims reports sexual abuse, helping lead to the fact that the average pedophile victimizes between 50 and 150 minors before law enforcement is apprised.
While the average age for reported sexual abuse is 9 years old, teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are still 3.5 times as likely as the rest of the population to be sexually abused.
While they aren’t as physically vulnerable as they were before puberty, the ups and downs of adolescence can make them much more emotionally vulnerable.
Physical vulnerability is heightened when they spend a lot of alone time at home, which is perhaps part of the reason kids of single moms are often targeted by sexual predators. Lonely kids and teens can easily find a “listening ear” online, often someone much older pretending to be their age.
Both your teen’s in-person interactions and her on-line activities can provide access to sexual predators. You can protect your teen by implementing a few household policies against these kinds of opportunities for sexual abuse:
- Closed bedroom doors when your child is not alone
- Inviting another adult into your home when no one else is home
- Any one-on-one meetings in private areas, such as cars, homes, or offices
- Outings or car rides alone with any individual adult male friends or relatives
- Overnight outings with anyone with whom you don’t feel completely secure (how well do you know the step father of your daughter’s best friend?)
Many sexual predators use information available online in order to make contact with their young targets. It’s crucial to set up Internet safeguards for your family members, which include encouraging your teen to keep certain details disconnected from social networking activities:
- Last name or other personally identifiable information
- Address, city, or school details that can help others locate him or her
- Check-ins at specific venues where predators could find your child
Putting up protective fences isn’t about restricting your teen from doing what she wants to do but about protecting her from others who want to cause her harm. If you can get her to understand that and see how serious the danger truly is, your teenager will know you’re really on their side.
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 © gemena communication / Fotolia. Middle © littleny / Fotolia. Bottom © Sergej Khackimullin / Fotolia.