Signs an abuser might display
People who want to abuse children often build a relationship with the child and the caring adults who want to protect them. Many are good at making 'friends' with children and those who are close to them.
Some may befriend parents who are facing difficulties, sometimes on their own. They may offer to baby-sit or offer support with childcare and other responsibilities. Some seek trusted positions in the community. They may look for jobs, which put them in contact with children, such as childcare, schools, children's groups and sports teams.
Some find places where they can get to know children and so not be seen as dangerous e.g. in arcades, playgrounds, parks, swimming baths and around schools.
People who abuse children and young people may offer a combination of gifts and treats or threats about what will happen if the child says 'no' or tells someone.
They may make the child afraid of being hurt physically, but more usually the threat is about what may happen if they tell e.g. the family breaking up or father going to prison.
In order to keep the abuse secret, the abuser will often play on the child's fear, embarrassment or guilt about what is happening, perhaps convincing them that no one will believe them. Sometimes the abuser will make the child believe that he or she enjoyed it and wanted it to happen and is responsible for the abuse happening.
Signs that an adult may be using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons:
The signs that an adult is using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons may not be obvious. We may feel uncomfortable about the way they play with the child, or seem always to be favouring them and creating reasons for them to be alone. There may be cause for concern about the behaviour of an adult or young person if they:
- Refuse to allow a child sufficient privacy or to make their own decisions on personal matters
- Insist on physical affection such as kissing, hugging or wrestling even when the child clearly does not want it
- Are overly interested in the sexual development of a child or teenager
- Insist on time alone with a child with no interruptions
- Spend most of their spare time with children and have little interest in spending time with people their own age
- Regularly offer to baby-sit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone
- Buy children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason
- Frequently walk in on children/teenagers in the bathroom
- Treat a particular child as a favourite, making them feel 'special' compared with others in the family
- Pick on a particular child
If you are at all worried over someone else's sexual behaviour then call the Stop it Now! Freephone, anonymous and confidential helpline on 0808 1000 900 for advice, support and information.
You can message the helpline using our secure messaging service by clicking here. Our messaging service is not able to offer an immediate response due to high demand. We aim to respond to messages within 5-7 working days. If your enquiry is urgent please call the confidential helpline.
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