What are the risks?

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Wellbeing and self-care

For wives and partners, parents, adult family members and friends of people who they suspect or know may be engaging in inappropriate behaviour involving children.

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If someone you know is engaging in sexual thoughts about children it can carry risks, not only for the individuals experiencing these thoughts but also potentially for the well-being of children they come into contact with in real life. The risk can be that by indulging in sexual fantasies about children, especially if someone is aroused by these thoughts, that they reinforce their attraction to children; this could lead to reduced control, an increased curiosity to look for indecent images of children and take you closer to harming a child.

The relationship between thoughts and actions

While there is a potential for individuals to act on their fantasies, the progression is not inevitable, and strategies can be employed to mitigate these risks and prevent harmful behaviour. There are things that someone with sexual thoughts about children can do to reduce their risk of progressing to sexually harmful behaviours such as:

  • Creating barriers between the fantasy space and the real-world space can reduce the likelihood of acting on fantasies. This might involve limiting access to children and opportunities to offend.
  • Recognizing potential future risks and identifying triggering situations and emotions can help individuals develop strategies to manage their fantasies. Employing techniques for managing these thoughts is essential.
  • Investing in positive future endeavours can divert attention away from harmful fantasies and behaviours. A well-rounded and fulfilling life can act as a protective factor.

You cannot manage someone else’s behaviour but you can take steps to create a safe environment and be involved in supporting a loved one through spotting warning signs such as behaviour change, secrecy and mood changes.

You can find out more about creating a safe environment using a family safety plan on parent’s protect.

If you have any concerns, questions, or would just like to talk about what you are going through, our non-judgemental helpline advisors are here to support you. You can stay anonymous and don’t have to give your real name or any contact details. If you’re not ready to speak to anyone yet, you can also use our live chat or send a secure email.

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