As a parent, there is probably no limit to the extent you’re willing to go to protect your child. The worrying began about 9 months before their birth and won’t end until your death. One of the biggest areas of concern is safety from sexual predators. How do you know who the known predators are, how to identify a molester, or worse, if your child is being molested, and how to report suspected abuse?
Registered Sex Offenders: Now it’s possible to go one place in the USA to get a list of registered offenders in your area. You no longer need to try to sort through private databases or pay some online child security service to do this for you. That’s the good news. Before I give you the website, though, let me give you the bad news and some other ways to protect your child. The sex offender list is as current as the Governments have, but not complete. What you need to understand is, it is only a list of people known to have offended in the past.
Any sexual predators who have not been caught are not on the list. Plus, those on the list may not be active any more, for a number of reasons. Knowing who is in your area may help you guard against those people but there is still much work to do to protect your child from molestation. One way is to learn to spot suspicious people where your child goes.
Profile Of A Child Molester: Profile is a much abused word but still the best one to describe someone who would possibly molest a child. Contrary to popular belief, this has more to do with behavior than looks. A pedophile will frequent places children gather…at church, school, playground and the internet. Sometimes you’ll spot suspicious behavior, like stalking, treats or the “Help me find my dog” routine, but usually, they won’t be doing that where adults can see. This is key! You want to protect your child from pedophiles? Make sure your child is always where adults can see. When it isn’t you, make sure the adult who is watching is dedicated and trustworthy.
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Pay attention for strangers and people without children at schools and playgrounds. If you see a stranger, watch the behavior. If it seems suspicious, get a friend and confront the stranger (politely). Most likely, it’s nothing, so don’t worry. If it’s something, both you and your friend should be able to sense that and take appropriate action. A quick note about churches, clubs, etc. Make sure they interview and fingerprint screen every volunteer who works with kids…even the ministers. It’s a shame we have to be suspicious of people volunteering to work with kids, but pedophiles love to volunteer. Even with all these cautions, someone could get through, making it important to know early, if something is going on.
Signs Of Child Molestation: Talk about something no parent wants to see! There’s no way to be sure, even if they can tell you something’s happening. One friend of mine found out at church that her husband was molesting her daughter. ..a very unpleasant, but fortunate coincidence. Fortunate, because it forced the truth to come out and the molestation to be stopped.
The most useful methods I’ve found to determine the likelihood of molestation are the Signs Of Child Molestation provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Unfortunately, unless your child confirms your suspicions, you’ll still be left doubting. If there are physical signs and the child is too young to accurately describe the cause, a trip to the doctor may help. In any event, if you still strongly suspect molestation, it’s better to report your suspicions than to assume nothing’s happening.
How To Report Suspected Child Predators: If you can’t confirm something has actually happened, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network may be able to help you figure it out. They also have a crisis line at 1.800.656.HOPE to help you if you’ve been sexually assaulted. The bottom line is, if you have strong suspicions your child is being molested you need to report it to your local police or child services. If you see someone engaging in suspicious behavior around the children in your neighborhood, local park, etc.
report it and let the authorities figure it out. I’m sure they don’t mind a few false alarms for every kid they can save. The police might even give you some free training as a result. Here is the location of the National Sex Offender Public Website [http://www.nsopr.gov/] where you can find out who are the registered sex offenders in your area. Your child’s safety isn’t assured through this database, but it can help as part of a complete strategy. That strategy should also include knowing the profile of a child molester, the signs of molestation and how to report suspected molestation and suspicious people.
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