WHAT ALL PARENTS SHOULD KNOW

The majority of adults who work with children do not harm them. Most environments are safe and provide fun experiences. However, there are individuals who will abuse their position of trust and offend against children. As is the case in any environment, you need to be informed about specific risks connected to the extra-curricular and community programs in which your child may be involved.

SEX OFFENDERS OFTEN INTENTIONALLY TARGET CHILD-SERVING ORGANIZATIONS
Individuals who choose to work with children and end up sexually abusing them typically fall into two categories:
  1. Those who deliberately seek access to children to satisfy their deviant sexual interest. This behaviour is calculated and purposeful.
  2. Those who have emotional and/or psychological problems rather than deviant sexual interests. This may start with a friendship between the child and adult which becomes distorted, resulting in inappropriate interactions and sexually abusive behaviour. The adult may not have any prior history of sexually offending, yet finds him/herself in a situation where his/her needs are met by exploiting children.

Child sex offenders target children in organizations because they believe:

  • They can gain the trust of the victim and those around the victim
  • They can get away with it
  • There are no clear consequences within the organization

Offences may go undetected because:

  • The offender appears to be a dedicated, outstanding employee/volunteer: extremely friendly, helpful, great with children, well-liked, etc.
  • Fellow employees/volunteers and parents cannot imagine that such offences could or would be attempted
  • Fellow employees/volunteers and parents believe they would know/notice if misconduct or abuse was occurring
  • The offender conceals the behaviour as legitimate job duties: caring for children, going on outings, spending extra time working alone with a child, participating in overnight trips, toileting, seeking assistance from a child, etc.

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE OFTEN BEGINS WITH UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR
Child sexual abuse is a complex problem because the abuse is often hidden, even to parents and other responsible adults. When abuse is obvious, the steps to take are often more clear. Examples of obvious abuse include: verbal abuse, harassment, physical intimidation and aggressive conduct.
It is in the grey area of inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour that it becomes harder for parents to know what to do. Examples of unacceptable behaviour may include an individual being fixated or obsessed with a child, favouritism, special privileges, sexual comments, and inappropriate physical contact (such as rubbing up against a child, stroking hair, etc.). It is important that this behaviour, which demonstrates a violation of boundaries, is identified early. You need to be aware of behaviour that is sexually inappropriate or constitutes misconduct so that you can intervene quickly.
MOST CHILD SEX OFFENDERS ARE WELL-KNOWN TO THE CHILD
Most cases of child sexual abuse are carried out by someone the child knows. This is often a family member, but can also be someone that the child knows and trusts from outside the home, such as an adult they know from an extra-curricular activity.
The Commit to Kids Parent Guide helps you identify potential risks associated with child-serving organizations. The information will also help you identify risks that may exist in or around your home and community. Should you become aware of a child in need of assistance (your own or otherwise), your local child welfare and/or law enforcement agency should be contacted for assistance.

“ Many offenders are not just pretending to be nice, they are nice.”

K. Lanning
(September 8th, 2009)