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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:

You can find more information about abuser behaviour at Parents Protect! and watch the online learning programme.

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.

We also offer a confidential e-mail service,, on which you can contact us. Your e-mail address will not be displayed. Due to high demand for this service, we are unfortunately unable to offer an immediate response to your enquiry. We aim to respond to all emails within 7 working days.

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