Childhood exploitation is defined many different ways yet for this article I am defining it as a minor or person under the age of 18 is exploited by an older person. Now before you stop reading this article and think that this topic doesn’t affect you or your life, please consider that if you have children under the age of 18 it can impact your life. Any child can be exploited, even a child with the most diligent and attentive parents.
How is that possible you might ask? Most child predators know their victims personally and intimately through one or both parents. Yes, that means the people closest to the mother or father maybe the very one hurting your child. Predators live with family members, and visit family members, and because they are part of the family the thoughts that anything bad could happen is dismissed quickly even when red flags are waving in the air wildly.
Think for just a minute about all the people with whom you allow to have access to your child daily. People whom by default of who they are and how you know them are never considered a threat. This includes family, coworkers, neighbors, school mates, kids in the neighborhood, boy scouts or girl scout groups, the teenage babysitter, a nanny, a house keeper, your church friends, employees of your child’s school or daycare, your child’s little league team, softball coach, gymnastic or dance instructor, mom or dad’s new paramour, grandma’s new beau, and close friends of the family.
These are people parents will bring into a child’s life without giving a second thought to consider that maybe one of them wishes to get close to your child for the wrong reasons. Yet, most predators use the relationship they have with a parent to gain access to a child. Still think your kids are safe and not affected?
Have you ever had a BBQ or a cookout? Whom did you choose to invite into your home for the occasion? Let me guess, your neighbors, coworkers or family right? Out of all those people who can you truly trust completely not to hurt your child? In reality…no one and if you believe otherwise you may be setting up your child to be a victim of exploitation.
Parents are very quick to allow people into their child’s life and very slow to question or deny access to someone out of fear of causing a disturbance or hurting someone’s feelings, even when there are red flags. Remember predators are opportunist. They find and use opportunities to isolate children. They especially prey on families where mom or dad is alone and they can become the child’s strong male or female role model.
Just this week a local story is breaking regarding a summer camp counselor who was arrested for touching an 8 year old inappropriately. The camp counselor is a volunteer who is 13 years old. There were at least 40 children whom were exposed to this camp counselor and police are expecting more victims to come forward.
The underage predator is a growing concern. Here background checks are often not done or simply ineffective because most juveniles their criminal offenses are locked to outside eyes because the offender is a child under 18. He seemed like such a nice kid people will say. She was always willing to help any child. He was nice to my children. All the kids in the neighborhood hung out at that house.
These are what parents say after finding out someone close to their child is a perpetrator. Consider carefully whom you allow to have unsupervised access with your child and if someone is spending more and more time alone with your child that is a red flag for you to find out what is going on before it is too late. Trust no one until they have proven to you they can be trusted.