Affection Lure

Most children are abused by someone they know and trust. Exploitation often begins with innocent behavior that escalates into abuse. Children who are starved for attention are especially vulnerable.

Pedophiles are experts at taking advantage of normal tensions between teenagers and parents. Youngsters who lack adequate supervision or face issues at home like divorce, substance abuse or neglect are preferred targets.

Establish a basic understanding of private parts, the parts of the body covered by a bathing suit. Instill a strong sense of body ownership and privacy. Stress that it is against the law for any adult, including a family member, scout leader, teacher, neighbor, clergy, etc. to touch a child in "the Bathing Suit Zone." Assure children that they have the right to say "NO!" to anyone who tries. Exceptions: Doctor's visit with a parent or guardian present, injury to the privates, bath time for young children.

Define the difference between Real Love (being tucked into bed at night by Mom, a big hug from Grandpa) and Fake Love (an adult touching a child in "the Bathing Suit Zone.") It is important to use the terms Real Love and Fake Love rather than good touch and bad touch, since a "bad touch" may actually feel good.

Parents, especially single Moms, question the motives of adults (particularly males) who take extreme interest in your child. Rely heavily on parental instincts. Monitor and participate in after-school, youth group, summer camp and church activities, especially those involving overnight stays. Let your children know they can tell you anything - and you will believe them. Stress that there should be no secrets from you, particularly those involving an adult.

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