Sad child at window

Sharing – Red Flags of child sex abusers from an ex-child abuse detective

I’m always hesitant to share lists like these because they can make some people suspicious of one item on the list that can have plenty of explanations.

For example, in the list below, the detective claims that someone being very secretive about their phone or other devices can be a red flag, and that’s probably true. It can also be something else. Some might consider me to fall under this category. I rarely let anyone look at my phone. But that’s because I work in the legal industry with client information that is supposed to remain private. Often that information is in email, accessible from my phone or another device. I’m secretive about that. It’s in my best interest in terms of keeping my job.

But some of the other things on this list, especially in combination, should give us pause. One of the biggest is the first item, targeting vulnerable kids with no one to talk to or who lack adult supervision. We know who those kids are just as much as a predator does. As a community, as parents, or as aunts and uncles, we can identify those kids and do something to make sure they have someone to talk to, somewhere to turn. We can make them less vulnerable.

We’ve spent so much time looking at lists like this one, looking for the bad people, and that is absolutely part of abuse prevention. Still, we’ve missed the boat on what might be the most significant tool in our prevention toolkit, taking the target off kids by connecting with them as parents and with other trusted adults—helping them be less vulnerable.

Kids who don’t have secrets make terrible targets for abusers. Kids with support and secure relationships aren’t easily manipulated and aren’t too eager to please adults.

We need our kids to be more of that, starting with having close relationships with the safe adults in their lives.

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