Grooming Techniques of Child Molesters
Pedophiles use their relationship and position of authority to sexually abuse a child
Contrary to popular belief, most child molesters are not random strangers in the street. Most often, they are people who are close to the child in some way. And who have known the child for a period of time: a relative, a friend of the family, a teacher, or a school or camp counselor. As a result, pedophiles groom children by using that relationship and position of authority to sexually abuse a child.
Sexual predators often go to great lengths to earn the trust of their victims and isolate them from friends, family, and authority figures. This is predatory grooming behavior.
Examples of How Pedophiles Groom Children:
- Compliments. A predator may gain the trust of a child by being the child’s “shoulder to cry on” whenever the child disagrees with his or her parents. They may frequently tell the child that he or she is “special.” As a result, by flattering the child, being a good listener, and lending emotional support, molesters break down children’s defenses and earn their confidence.
- Slowly increasing the amount of physical contact. Predators often try to desensitize the child before they attempt anything sexual. A predator may brush children’s hair, “accidentally” bump into them, or massage their shoulders. Consequently, this “innocent” contact serves to gradually remove the child’s inhibitions.
- Touching in the vicinity of parents. A predator may even become so bold as to touch a child covertly while in the parents’ presence. The parent may not notice, and the child will come away thinking that their parents don’t have a problem with the predator touching their child.
- Isolation. Molesters often make up excuses to spend long periods of time alone with the child they are targeting, especially situations where the child will need to change clothes or sleep. Overnight trips and weekend getaways are excellent opportunities for a molester to get a child alone and sexually abuse them.
More Examples of How Pedophiles Groom Children:
- Coercion. In the latter stages of childhood sex abuse, molesters may teach children that if they report the abuse, something terrible will happen. A predator may use emotional manipulation techniques, blackmail, punishment, or even threats against the child’s family to secure the child’s ongoing cooperation. Once a child is scared enough of potential consequences to avoid confessing to anyone, the molester has them under complete control.
- Shifting blame. Even as the predator threatens and coerces the child, they may try to persuade their victim that they are on the same team. Some molesters attempt to convince their victims that they are part of the same conspiracy—that the child willingly entered into a physical relationship with the offender (or even initiated it). Therefore, the impressionable child takes the blame for the abuse onto himself or herself. This results in further assurance that they will never report what’s happened to them.
- Telling dirty jokes, playing sex games, or showing pornography. Children are naturally curious. A predator might use that fact to their advantage by showing them pornographic materials, telling sexually explicit jokes or anecdotes, or even engaging in sexual games with the child. As a result, this serves to break down the child’s inhibitions and make them more pliable.
- Engaging in “trade.” Pedophiles groom children by giving a child gifts or money in order to coerce that child into giving sexual favors or viewing pornography. In the case of teenagers, the predator might offer to buy drugs or alcohol.
The Bottom Line - Pedophiles Groom Children to Control Them
Pedophiles groom children to make them more amenable to being abused and less likely to confess to it—to bring the child totally under the molester’s control. Due to a combination of trickery, manipulation, coercion, isolation, and desensitization, it serves to convince children that what is happening is “right,” and that the fault is theirs. In this way, predators ensure that they have a willing and compliant victim who is unlikely to ever tell parents or police what happened.
Predators often seek out children who are already emotionally vulnerable. And lonely kids who are ostracized by their peers or misunderstood by their parents.
Steps to Take If You Suspect a Pedophile Grooming Children
- Follow your instincts. Don’t keep your suspicions to yourself if you believe that someone is grooming your child. Immediately cut off all contact between your child and the suspected predator.
- Be aware of your child’s psychological state. Know if your child is lonely, bored, angry, or otherwise emotionally compromised. In this state, they are likely to be targeted by a predator. Talk to your child and take steps to help them address and remedy their feelings. Be supportive so that a potential predator will have no room to worm their way into the child’s life.
- Don’t let your guard down around “trustworthy” adults. Predators are not always strangers lurking in the shadows. Frequently, they’re intimates of the child, respected individuals in positions of power or influence—even family members. Question the motives of any adult who becomes overly familiar or touchy-feely with your child. Teach your children to do so as well.
- Know where your children are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. It’s important for you to be aware of your child’s whereabouts. If they’re spending a suspiciously large amount of “alone time” or “special time” with another adult, you have reason to be concerned. Consequently, encourage your child to tell you about the time they spend with other adults. Also, listen for anything that might confirm or disprove your suspicions.
Additional Steps to Take
- Allow your children to have and keep boundaries. Never force your children to be affectionate with someone if they don’t wish to be. This will only serve to teach your kids that forced physical contact is normal. Also, tell them how to respectfully decline a hug or a kiss, and to stick to their refusal.
- In addition, talk with your children. Pedophiles take advantage of the fact that children know nothing about sex in order to “teach” them. Educate your children about sex, predation, and grooming behavior. It will be much, much harder for a predator to gain the trust of your child if your child already knows about sexual impropriety and predatory manipulation techniques.
- Finally, trust, but verify. Let your children know that they can come to you at any time with questions or concerns. Keep the door open. At the same time, be aware of your child’s activities, especially online. Furthermore, monitor their email and text communications for incoming explicit materials or other predatory grooming.
What to do if your child is a sexual abuse victim
If you suspect that your child is a victim of sexual abuse, you should know your legal rights and options. Call the law firm of Corsigilia McMahon & Allard at (408) 289-1417 for a free and confidential consultation. We've successfully represented victims of sexual abuse across California. Furthermore, we have the financial resources necessary to win and hold accountable your abuser or the institution that enabled their behavior. As a result, we work to get you fair compensation in civil court. Finally, let our strength and experience support you in this difficult time.
Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P.
96. North Third Street, Suite 620
San Jose, CA 95112