This is what you can look for to potentially identify grooming behaviors of sexual abusers of children. This applies not only to your children, but even for friends/relatives. You may see behavior that the child’s parent may miss or fall prey to.
But keep in mind that seeing these signs does NOT mean this person is most definitely trying to abuse a child. Predators try to do what nice people would do and they duplicate that behavior to gain trust & access to a child. Nowadays, people are afraid to be nice & helpful because they’re afraid of being suspected of something bad. Good people have to go above and beyond to show their intentions are good while groomers will often seek out the people that will more easily trust them.
Those that groom may:
- Give the child extra attention, build a friendship with the child, and make them feel special and loved to have an adult friend that encourages and flatters them. They may make the child believe they love them, in a romantic way.
- Tickle, wrestle, hug, kiss, hold, and touch a child even if the child does not want to. People often think this is the person being friendly, and don’t realize the potential for abuse.
- “Accidentally” touch a child’s private parts to see how they react.
- Show lack of respect for privacy – walk in on them while they’re using the bathroom or dressing. Another “accident” or an attempt to create an environment where it’s “OK” to be naked or exposed in each other’s company.
- Make inappropriate/sexual comments or jokes to the child or even to others, regarding the child.
- Give gifts for no apparent reason, allowing the child special privileges or treatment.
- Spend more time with children than adults, so much that it seems odd to other adults.
- Test the child’s reaction to affection/touching by putting an arm on the shoulder, a back rub, a long hug that leads to further testing, a kiss on the lips, or a hand on the knee.
- Convince the child that exploring each other’s bodies is natural and that they are “teaching” them something. This can even happen within the home in front of the other parent.
Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect.