Handsome, Witty, Charming, Gifted, Respected…
And a Child Molester.
Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach and founder of the Second Mile charity for children was convicted on 45 counts of sexual assaulting 10 boys over 15 years.
We would all do well to think of Jerry Sandusky when it comes to protecting children. Looking back, Sandusky displayed the classic signs of child sexual predator and pedophile grooming — from building trust with his victims, to currying favor and control by buying them gifts and giving them access to the Penn State football program, and then forcing them to participate in sex acts and then remain quiet about it.
Jerry Sandusky groomed his victims so well that some of them have kept in touch with him as recently as two years ago. Many from the defense are asking why would the victims do such a thing if it were true that Sandusky had sexually abused them.
But that is how pedophiles – persons with a sexual preference for prepubescent minors – work. They manipulate children and control them by bribing, brainwashing, threatening, controlling and embarrassing them.
Churches must teach ministry leaders, workers, volunteers and even parents how to recognize the grooming behaviors of sexual offenders. We must bring what has been hidden in the darkness out into the light.
Grooming is a process that begins when the predator chooses a target area such as schools, churches, playgrounds, malls and parks. He may work or volunteer at places that cater to children or he may befriend parents- especially single parents.
Once the target area is chosen, the victim selection and recruitment begins. Often children who are shy, well mannered, obedient, isolated or have inadequate parental supervision, drug addicted or alcoholic parents are the most vulnerable to sexual predators.
Sexual offenders are masters of manipulation. They groom not only the child, but also the child’s parents and other gatekeepers.
Offenders who prefer younger child victims are more likely to try and gain the parents/guardians trust first in order to gain increased access to the victim. Offenders tell parents and guardians that they want to “mentor or help” their child.
Offenders groom and seduce the child victims with a combination of attention, affection, privileges, recognition, gifts, alcohol, drugs or money until they lower the victims’ inhibitions and gain their cooperation.
They almost always offer a sympathetic, understanding ear…your parents don’t understand you but I do…I know what it’s like to have other kids make fun of you…your parents don’t trust you, well I do and I’m here for you… I care for you more than anyone. They want to alienate the child from the parents or guardians.
Here are some of the signs that child sexual offenders display when “grooming” a child victim.
Ten Grooming Behaviors of Child Sexual Offenders
- Adults who are preoccupied with children.
- Single adults who work or volunteer with children’s clubs or activities.
- Adults who work with children and also frequently spend their free time doing “special” things with kids.
- Adults who volunteer with youth groups who DO NOT have kids in those programs.
- Adults who engage in questionable contact with kids such as casual touching, caressing, wrestling, tickling, roughhousing, combing hair, lap sitting.
- Adults who act like kids (styles, behaviors, etc.) or allow kids to do questionable or inappropriate things.
- Adults who want to take kids on special outings frequently, or plan activities that include being alone with children.
- Adults who DO NOT have children and know too much about current fads, music, games etc. that are popular with children.
- Adults who “infiltrate” “family” functions and are “always available” to watch the kids.
- Many hold responsible jobs and align themselves with reputable organizations, sports leagues and churches.
Start protecting the children, the workers and your ministry today by training your leaders and workers how recognize signs or child sexual abuse.
As a ministry of Closson Insurance Agency, we have developed a complete program to help you protect the children in your church. We’ve written a comprehensive Child Protection Plan procedure manual, a training workbook and we’ll conduct a 3 hour training workshop- free of charge!
It’s our passion to help protect children and ministries. If you would like to speak with one of us, please feel free to contact us…we’d love to talk to you!