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Letter: The way predators groom


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Child sexual predators exist in all socioeconomic groups and they live within the child’s world: family, friends of family, schools, churches, child-focused organizations and professions. This crime is not usually the result of stranger danger.

As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I want to alert parents, teachers and child-focused organizations to the calculated grooming/manipulation techniques used by child predators. A predator will deliberately target a vulnerable, emotionally needy child who may be unsupervised or under supervised. The predator, who may be a family member, gains the trust of the child by being a friend, a confidante and offering praise and gifts.

Next, the sexual predator isolates the child by frequently spending time alone with the child using excuses such as tutoring and offering to help a single parent by babysitting or transporting the child to and from school activities. Once the child is emotionally dependent on the sexual predator, he/she begins to sexualize the relationship. This may begin with the predator finding opportunities to change their clothes by preparing to go swimming, taking overnight camping trips, etc. He/she uses the child’s natural curiosity to advance the sexual activity. Finally, the predator maintains control of the child by insisting on secrecy and frightening the child with threats to harm their parents.

Understanding child sexual predator grooming techniques will provide parents, teachers and child-focused organizations with information they need to detect any red flags and make appropriate inquiries/interventions in a timely manner. Every N.H. citizen is a mandated reporter.

PAULA C. LESMERISES

Concord