(3rd of 7 posts on child sexual abuse prevention)
There are a percentage of sexual offenders/perpetrators/criminals that snatch a child or make a sexual move on a child, all at once and without any precursory behaviors. Here, we are talking about the creepy guy sitting in the white van or the guy in the trench coat at the park. We most definitely need to safeguard against these very disastrous acts of crime. However, only 5% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a stranger *(Snyder, 2000).
56% of those that sexually abuse a child are acquaintances of either the child or the family (Snyder, 2000).
Gateways to the victim, also called “grooming” is the act of successive, thought out strategies used by a perpetrator with the victim and/or the family in order to facilitate their being able to carry out the acts of sexual abuse on the child with the highest probability of being able to do it without getting caught.
While not all adults who tickle children are paving the way to sexually abuse them, tickling is a good example of the grooming process.
When trust can be won over and defenses can be disarmed, the offender is then able to have their way with the child. With the example of tickling, the perpetrator is able to publicly and/or privately tickle just a little bit.
The act is carried out cheerfully and playfully. In this “controlled experiment” the offender is able to see if anyone is going to set a limit, “Oh, Uncle John, we have a ‘no tickling rule’ in our family. Stop tickling Sam.”
Some parents fear that others will see them as ridiculous. “Everyone is having fun…what is your problem??”
When no one puts the brakes on the behavior, Uncle John then has a slip of the hand. He then observes whether the child says anything when their “private part” is rubbed, or if any adults notice. If so, he promptly
apologizes and calls it an accident and he knows to be more careful next time, take another route or choose another child/family.
If not, now that they are having loads of fun, Uncle John begins to pick the child up, play more hands on games and has successfully disarmed the child and the adults to the point that everyone is comfortable, or, a new norm has been set with Uncle John that people may not be comfortable with, but, “…it’s just Uncle John.” Uncle John is now able to take it to the next level.
Sometimes the “grooming” process can go on for months before any act of reportable sexual abuse is committed. Often, the lines of what is appropriate and what is over the line become very blurred. Once a reportable act of sexual abuse HAS occurred, the child often feels responsible, in that they have never said
anything before, so who would believe them now.
There are many more examples of “grooming” and what you should know.
Next week I will address the lies that a perpetrator actually tells the child about the abuse. Please, if these
informational posts are triggering you because sexual abuse has touched your life in a personal way, now is the time to seek assistance. “IT IS THE SILENCE THAT POISONS OUR FAMILIES” (Former Miss America,
Marilyn van Derbur, Stewards of Children)
I urge every parent to take this training or call me directly for assistance. Between my services, other qualified professionals, Children’s Cove, Independence House, and others, every adult; parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle….should be trained, along with EVERY person providing any level of care to a minor.
*Snyder, H. N. (2000). Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: Victim, incident, and offender characteristics. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
This is an empowerment program, not a paranoia or scare based program. Even given the numbers of 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys being sexually abused before their 18th birthday, it is important to keep a sense of perspective. While we have to keep in mind that there are offenders in the local community, the vast majority of people do not sexually abuse children. Our #1 defense and method to keep children safe in our community is to begin to talk about CSA and educate ourselves about CSA.
It is an adult responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse!
Click here for testimonials from Cape Cod parents and professionals who took this training with Tracy
By Tracy Lamperti,
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
Please see www.tracylamperti.com for more information about working with children and families or specifically about sexual abuse.
If you would like 1:1 assistance, please contact Tracy Lamperti for a consultation.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
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