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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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Childhood Exploitation - What Does Exploited Mean


We know what the word missing means, but does anyone know what the word exploited means. According to Dictionary.com, exploited is defined, “To employ to the greatest possible advantage” or “To make use of selfishly or unethically.” Put simply, exploited means to manipulate.

Adults use children for their own selfish and often unethical nature, manipulating children, and exploiting them for their own sexual satisfaction. Adults can manipulate children because adults are bigger than the child is, both physically and emotionally. Adults are the dominant figure in a child’s life.

Children learn early on in life to “listen” to adults, and if they do not “listen,” they learn there are not so pleasant outcomes. Adults, who exploit children, know how to manipulate the child and the other people in the child’s life. Sexual abuse is one way adults exploit children.

Although there is no definitive definition of sexual abuse, it can include watching a child, called voyeurism, exposing one’s self to the child, indecent exposure, and child pornography. Other forms of child sexual abuse include fondling a child's genitals, forcing a child to touch the perpetrator’s genitals, masturbating in front of the child, sodomy, digital penetration, and vaginal or anal penetration.

There are no safety nets for children of any particular race, culture, religion, or economic background. No one particular group seems any less vulnerable to abuse than another group. Young women report sexual abuse more than young men, possibly because young men are less likely to talk to anyone about sexual abuse initially.

Most sex offenders are either family members or friends of the family or child. Did everyone read that line clearly? People are quick to dismiss a story in the news, like what happened to Shawn Hornbeck and say “thank god that will never happen to my child because…” When in reality Shawn was an exception to the rule.

Most sex offenders who will abuse a child are a well-known family friend or a relative! This means the offender is someone the child already knows and trusts, not a stranger hiding or lurking in the bushes.

This means the soccer coach; the youth pastor, the science teacher, and the librarian are possible sex offenders. A new step dad, the new step mom’s 14-year-old son, the day care provider, the day care provider’s brother who moved in last week after he lost his job are all people you trust. People you trust are people you usually allow unsupervised, unquestioned access to your child. The list goes on and on folks.

Do you tell your children they have to listen to Uncle John and Aunt Susie no matter what they say? How many of us are divorced and have children living in blended families? We have new grandparents, new aunts, new uncles, new cousins, new stepbrothers and stepsisters, new dads and new moms.

Many times stepbrothers are now five or more years older than their new little stepsisters and so many time’s families are finding out the stepbrother has been molesting the younger stepsister for months. This writer is not saying all stepbrothers are molesting their stepsisters. There are simply new families and new rules and vulnerable young children are in new situations. Parents need to teach children new guidelines to live by before something happens. Once something happens we have failed as parents.


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Content copyright © 2014 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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