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The Ways on How Molesters Groom Their Victims and How A Parent Can Stop Them

Intervention and prevention are the first things on your mind right after you realize that your child is vulnerable to molestation. Some may question whether or not their kid is in danger of being abused and molested in the first place. The sad fact is, children from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds are at risk for sexual abuse from molesters.[i] However, as parents and caretakers you can become aware of the grooming process in order to more easily recognize it and save your child’s innocence.

Pedophiles and predators have a certain pattern in grooming their victims. The entire process is actually composed of several stages that are very common, yet difficult to detect or prevent. If you want your child to be out of any predator’s agenda, you must learn these stages and formulate a plan to arm yourself and your child.

Profiling a child molester or predator as someone who is hideous, odd, secretive, and a complete stranger is a very misguided notion. In actuality, he is someone who is very close and for some, even emotionally attached to the child victim.[ii] They can even be close peers or relatives of the parents while others can be from the school or the neighborhood. Wherever child molesters come from, our point here is that they have the same modus operandi of grooming child victims before proceeding on exploiting and molesting them sexually.

No matter how masterful and skilled a predator may be, he still needs a situation where the child complies with what he wants. And he cannot do this without first grooming the potential child victim. In this process, he can go as far as infiltrating the family and befriending the parents just to make sure there is no suspicion from them. And after that, he goes on to continue with his agenda of grooming and eventually molesting or exploiting the child.


In the book “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis” by former FBI agent Kenneth Lanning, five stages of the grooming process are laid out. These are:

1.   Victim selection and identification

2.   Background and information checking

3.   Filling a need

4.   Lowering/decreasing inhibitions and;

5.   Abuse initiation


When we said earlier that these stages are common, what we mean is that there is always a way for parents to detect and stop them. But then again, it’s never that easy if you don’t get to learn how each stages work.


Identifying the Victim

You should take note that every child is prone and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. It means that there’s no exception as to gender, age, class, or anything. However, each molester has his distinct and specific preference with regards to the same factors we emphasized. There are some who choose young girls while others prefer pre-teens. But what makes them similar is that they always look for the most obvious weakness of the possible victim.


What you need to do as a concerned parent is to take a careful look at those people who may have a special degree of bond or relationship with your child. After all, there is nothing to lose and so much to gain if you just give your kid additional attention and time he needs. You as a parent should know that the most vulnerable kids are the ones who do not get that much attention and love from their own parents.


Information Check

As soon as the molester finds his potential victim, the next stage is gathering information. But he does not do this by asking other people. His skill lies primarily on doing everything in order to reach and befriend the child. From simple casual conversation, he is able to extract sufficient information from the possible victim and then be able to extract and learn the child’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Being a parent, strive hard to be close to your child because if you are, he will not hesitate to tell and confess to you if someone starts to ask him personal and invasive questions. And when he does confess, tell him not to give any personal information to people whom he does not know and trust.


Being there

One of the most effective strategies of a molester and offender is the ability to deceive the victim. He is very skilled at presenting a kind of image that he’s always there to provide any kind of need, want, or desire. In many cases, molesters begin their trade by giving the victims gifts and presents or treating them for food, parks, or rides. The main thing is supplying the potential victim the time, attention, and love that are not given by the parents.


This can also mean filling in a need for a mentor, tutor, teacher or coach. In some environments, like the church, adults are even encouraged to take on these positions for children in need of extra attention. While these one on one interactions can be very helpful to a young person’s development, we have to acknowledge that child molesters are looking for the opportunities to fill these positions.


Lower the inhibitions

Grooming takes a significant step when the molester starts to lower the child’s shyness with regards to sexual issues. After giving rewards and gifts, he starts to ask something in return, and this something may be in the form of forcing the child to watch sexually explicit or pornographic material. Other than that, he has a very clever way of infiltrating the victim’s mind and perception in order to view sex as something that’s really not bad after all. In a spiritual sense, sex is made to no longer be sacred, but rather casual.


When your child is starting to talk unusually about sex and things related to it, you need to ask her where she got them. Never tolerate this kind of development because it might be a sign that she’s already been groomed to accept sex as a normal occurrence even for children.


Eventual abuse or molestation

This is the final and most alarming part. When all the previous steps in the grooming process succeed, the result would be the eventual sexual abuse of the child. The consequences can be traumatic and can even cause permanent behavioral and emotional disorders for the child victim.

Unfortunately, you have to face reality – that each child, no matter how strong the family bond and relationship, can still be exposed to exploitation. But understanding the entire grooming process is a very good step in order for you to protect your child before the onset of the actual abuse. In addition to understanding the process yourself, make sure that your children are armed with information. While you have to present it in an age appropriate manner, you can teach them how to identify when an adult is gathering information on them or trying to get them to keep a secret from their parents. Ultimately, predators only reveal themselves to other predators and to children, so our kids are on the front line of their own defense. We have to be proactive as parents and as Christians for the sake of our children.

. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Fifth Edition. 2010.



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