Adults may demonstrate problem sexual behaviors prior to a child's disclosure of sexual abuse. These behaviors can alert other adults and older children that this is a high-risk individual. Never leave a child unsupervised around a person who demonstrates these behaviors. Directly ask children if someone has sexually abused them. Prior to asking a child questions regarding sexually inappropriate contact with an adult, the child would need instruction on personal safety, sexual boundaries, and emergency plans

Stop It Now! discusses the following adult sexual behavior problems:
  • Having a "special friend" who is a child. The identity of this child may change over time, creating a succession of "special friends."
  • Spending most of their time in activities that involve children or teenagers.
  • Having no close relationships with other adults.
  • Making fun of a child's body parts or calling a child by sexualized names such as "slut," whore," or "stud."
  • Repeatedly discussing the sexual activities of children and teenagers.
  • Discussing sexual fantasies involving children.
  • Not knowing what is appropriate/not appropriate regarding sexual behavior with children.
  • A childhood history involving violence, sexual activity and behaviors, and pornography, and these issues have not been addressed or dealt with as adult.
  • Compulsive masturbation that interferes with daily activities.
  • Viewing child pornography in periodicals or videos or on internet.  

One of the above behaviors alone does not communicate high risk. However, if more than one is present, you should take special care to protect your children.

If you discuss safety with your child, she will be better able to protect herself or to come and tell if an adult or older child says or does something that is sexually inappropriate. APA Online provides a list of some of the things you can discuss with your child:

  • Basic sex education. Make sure that your child knows about private parts of her body.
  • Adult sexual behaviors. Make sure your child knows that it is wrong and that it is against the law for an adult to touch a child in her private parts or ask her to touch his private parts.
  • Assertive behavior. Make sure your child knows that she can say "no" to an adult and can resist any attempt of an adult to act in a sexual way.
  • Private property. Make sure your child knows that her body is hers and that no other person has a right to touch her in a sexual way. Let her know that a doctor may touch her there or mother or caregiver may assist with bathing (if young child).
  • Boundaries. Make sure your child knows she can say "no" to hugs and other kinds of touches, even though not sexual. Sometimes offenders will hug tight, tickle, or engage in other touching behaviors in the grooming process. Help your child learn how to honor her intuition and know when she does not feel safe. 
  • Affection. Do not make your child hug, kiss, or show affection to other family members (uncles, grandfathers, cousins). If your child feels safe and comfortable and wants to hug someone, she can do this on her own terms.
  • Communication. Help your child develop strong communication skills. Discuss, not just abuse, but many topics. Make sure your child knows why it is important to come to you or another trusted adult to report abuse if it occurs.
  • Peer group. Make sure that you know who your child's friends are.
  • Cars. Make sure that your child knows NEVER to get into a car with anyone without your permission, not just strangers.
  • Trust, love, and approval. Force is not usually necessary when adults abuse children. Children are dependent on adults and are naturally trusting. Offenders are convincing in the grooming process. A child wants to please and wants love and approval. Make sure your child gets ample love and approval from you


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