Online is not the only way that child predators contact children. Studies have proven repeatedly that the majority of child predators that go after children offline are people the children know in some way. Many, sadly, are family members. With these kinds of statistics it’s up to you, as the parent, to do everything you can to be aware of where your child is and who they are with at all times.
With the unsettling facts that show that many child predators are family members, it becomes even more important to educate yourselves and your children on what is acceptable behavior from an adult and what is not. We have put together some information below that will help you spot potential child predators that may be targeting your children.
This information is not designed to instill paranoia and fear in you or your child but with these kinds of odds, the more prepared and knowledgeable you are the better protected your children are.
Offline Predators Can Be More Dangerous Than Online Predators
Just like with online predators, child predators that are looking for victims offline look for vulnerable children that they can build a relationship or trust with to get what they want. In many ways it is easier for a child predator to victimize a child offline, especially since in many cases, they are children that they come in contact with on a regular basis. It could be a clergy member, coach, teacher, police officer, or a family member.
Since the children see these people on a regular basis and you also know them, the child can easily become confused and too scared to try and stop it because they fear that parents and others will become angry. It becomes very easy for the predator to scare the child into complying, sometimes for years, and no one will ever know.
Offline child predators can be a lot more dangerous to the child than online simply because the predator has easy physical access to the child already. A child predator that is targeting children offline is intent on a goal and it is up to the parents and other responsible adults to teach children how to protect themselves in the face of these dangers, even if it is someone they know.
Common Methods Offline Predators Use to Contact Children
Protecting children in the day to day physical world is very important because there are so many ways that a predator can get the inside track with a child. Every day parents send their kids off to school, church, and other functions, without thinking too much about whether those people that are in charge of the children are TRULY safe.
There are some common ways that offline predators will use to convince children to trust them while luring them towards their ultimate goal. It’s impossible to know everything about everyone your child encounters in their daily lives, but you can look out for suspicious or inappropriate behavior and teach your children to do the same. We’ve listed some of the more common things to watch for.
- Being Overly Complimentary – Compliments are always welcome to adults and children alike but when they come from someone the child doesn’t know, or they are profuse in amount or seem out of context, it is time to look more closely. Child predators can quickly zero in on children or teens that may have insecurity problems or that are struggling in school. They swoop in with well-placed compliments that make the child feel better, and that also builds a trust with that person. Why wouldn’t the child begin to trust someone that was so nice to them? Once they have established trust, it’s a quick jump to victimization.
- Siding Against the Parents – Child and their parents argue all the time about rules, chores, and other matters. Sometimes a child may even get mad at their parents and not want to be around them. Child predators use these arguments to gain the trust of a child by siding with them. The child feels better and even validated because another adult is on their side. This can lead to the child quickly seeing the predator as someone they can trust and who understands them.
- Buying Gifts – Children can be easily blinded by just the promise of gifts, imagine how easy it can be to gain their trust when gifts are actually purchased. This is especially effective for children in families of lesser means where treats and gifts are not commonplace. If the predator buys a gift for the child often, it can lure the child into a false sense of trust where they mistake the gifts for affection and acceptance.
- Being a “Cool” Adult – Predators are very good at being up on the latest trends and popular topics that teens and children are interested in. By appearing to be cool and one of them, it can cause children to treat them like one of the gang, interacting and engaging with them on levels they wouldn’t normally engage in with other adults. Once this has occurred it is easier for the predator to talk the child into other activities.
- Going Fun Places – Children love to do fun things, so if someone is always offering to take them out to eat, to the movies, to concerts and things like that, it is easy to become someone they view as safe and fun to be with. Predators know this and usually target kids that don’t have the opportunity to go places very often.
Once any of these methods are used, the child predator then gradually introduces additional things that they are after such as sexual contact, sexual conversations, and participation in pornography whether watching it or participating in it. In most cases the child will feel obligated to comply, or the predator will use guilt or fear to keep the child doing what they want.
Using such ploys is very easy because they can simply tell the child that if they want to continue to receive gifts or go places, they need to be agreeable; after all, don’t they owe the predator for all they’ve done? And the trap gets set.
These aren’t the only ways that child predators target children and teens offline. Other methods can be affection to a child that gets none, promises of stardom to teens wanting to be famous or simply by using the child’s trust in them to get them to do whatever they want. Ultimately, at some point, if the child resists or wants to stop, guilt and fear will be used to keep them in line. It can be a terrifying cycle for a child.