As noted in my last Blog, I did describe and define pedophiles , “sexual predators on the playground” that parents need to be aware of. I also planned on providing the techniques and tools that these predators use to capture their prey utilizing the weapon of GROOMING.
As noted in Gregory Weber’s article, this process of capturing a victim on the playground is entitled Grooming. It increases the pedophile’s access to his victim and decreases the likelihood of discovery. Anna Salter, a respected psychologist and an expert in the field of child sexual assault describes this formula to capture a pedophile’s prey. ” The establishment (and eventual betrayal) of affection and trust occupies a central role in the child predator’s interactions. The grooming process often seems similar from offender to offender, largely because it takes little to discover that emotional seduction is the most effective way to manipulate children.”
Grooming is a process and it begins when the pedophile chooses a target area. He may visit places where children are likely to be found; schools, shopping malls, playgrounds, parks and social functions as a malicious guest.
Victim selection and recruitment are next but there is no prototypical victim of child sex abuse. Any child of any age can be victimized but usually children with needs are targeted. A child who feels unloved and unpopular will soak up adult attention like a sponge. Children with family problems , who spend time alone and unsupervised and those who lack confidence and self esteem and are isolated from their peers are all likely targets.
Pedophiles engage or recruit their victims in different ways. Many use a combination of forced teaming and charm. They may offer to play games, give rides or buy gifts as tokens of friendship. They may offer drugs or alcohol to older children to lure them further in satisfying their sexual needs. They almost always offer a sympathetic , understanding ear to hear all of their complaints and problems that parents have failed to listen to. They will acknowledge that parents do not understand them, or respect them, but I do. Other kids make fun of you, parents don’t trust you and they don’t want you to grow up. These pedophiles profess to trust them, love them, respect them and care for them more than anybody else. They may profess their love and appeal to their level of guilt not to report them because they could go to jail. Yes, these predators do take the time to seduce their prey and do not attack impulsively.
Pedophiles will introduce secrecy at some point during the grooming process. Initially, secrecy binds the victim to him. He directs the victim not to tell friends because they will be jealous and, most of all, don’t tell your parents. Secrecy then turns into threats, “If you tell your parents, they will hate you, it will kill them or I will kill them or you.”
Emotional bonding and grooming will lead to physical contact. Pedophiles utilize the grooming process to break down a child’s defenses and increase the child’s acceptance of sexual contact. Premature stimulation of sexual feelings may occur since cognitive development of decision making has not yet evolved in a child particularly below the age of thirteen. The pedophile breaks down inhibitions and this leads to more sexual experiences and intercourse, the predator’s ultimate goal.
In conclusion, as noted by Gavin De Becker in his article, the best way to recognize grooming behavior is to pay attention to your child and the people in their life. Children require the protection of adults from adults. Their fear of people and their intuition is not yet fully developed and nor filled with information and experience to keep them from harm. Yes, parents have many demands in their lives but nothing is more important that the safety and welfare of our children. When we blindly surrender responsibility for our loved ones such as incompetent caregivers or even the schools who do not, at times, report the absence of a child at school in due time, we invite trouble.
Most importantly, please talk to your little angels and teach them to recognize grooming behaviors. Teach them to trust you with their problems and their pain not a predatory stranger. The safest child does have a close bonded relationship with their parents and distrust for strangers.
In my next Blog, I will discuss and share the symptoms of sexually violated children , the healing process and an understanding of the emotional functioning of pedophiles. Do share with us on whatsyourfeeling.wordpress.com