In today’s world, both online and in the real environment, we must make kids aware of two major types of danger. One is “stranger danger,” the unknown person who might be on the lookout for young children for whatever reason and could abduct them. The other is “acquaintance awareness.” This is the need to have a healthy suspicion of anyone they know who is acting strangely toward them. So how do we communicate to children what to look out for? Here are some common signs that a friend or acquaintance is getting too close for comfort:
1) Having secrets- This is one of the most common signs of possible intended abuse according to the Child Maltreatment organizations. Sometimes this starts as an innocent secret, such as something they tell the child, to see if the child keeps the secret or tells their parents. Then if the child does not tell, they know they could move toward more sexual secrets if the intention is to abuse them.
2) Close proximity- People who want to get too close to your child physically may have ill intentions. While this is not always the case, as some people are just more “touchy feely,” it bears watching if someone you know sits extremely close to your child, touches them a lot or other similar behaviors.
3) Buying Gifts- Sometimes perpetrators buy gifts for children to win their favor. This puts them in a positive light with the child, and builds trust. The child doesn’t know what the motivation is. They just think the person really likes them. Explain to them that too many gifts or attention are sometimes a sign of sexual interest and that they need to let you know about any gifts they receive from anyone, regardless of whether it is a stranger or an acquaintance.
4) Frequent Communications- While electronic communications, phones calls, or emails are okay on occasion if you know the person, repeated attempts to contact a child through email, social media, or other means is generally seen as inappropriate and crossing the lines. Be watchful of anyone who tries to contact your child, even if it is just once, and try to find out the motive.
5) Making up Excuses to See Your Child- If someone is always trying to figure out a way to get your child alone, or to see them, this is cause for suspicion. While there are instances when it is appropriate, such as a coach of a ball team, a church group, or other, if someone seems to have singled out your child to keep company with them, be aware. They could just be lonely, do not have children of their own, or enjoy their company. But it is the prudent parent who is aware of the dangers and keeps a watchful eye.
If you keep these things in mind, you may decrease the risk of your child being abused or abducted by either a stranger or a known acquaintance. It is important to note that 92% of sexual abuse cases, where it is known the incident did happen, occurred by someone the child knew and trusted. This is a sad fact, but one to bear in mind. The bottom line for parents is to always know what your child is doing, who they are with, and who is contacting them at all times. If you keep the lines of communication open with your child and make it safe to tell you everything, many of these incidents can be prevented.
Evelyn Franklin is a professional blogger that provides news and information on Florida law firms. She writes for Musca Law, where to find the best Florida criminal defense lawyers.