Regrets suck. Regrets about your child suck more than anything else. How can you spot a paedophile before it’s too late? What are the signs?
This is the quick version. The more in-depth version will be along shortly. Read the longer version when it’s out, it’ll help you more.
(And don’t forget to see the picture guide at the end.)
Spot a pedophile #1 They seek out the kid
Normal adults leave the kids to play by themselves. Personally I’ll stay near my kids at a social function (because I don’t trust other adults), but I don’t seek interaction with them if they’re happy to be playing by themselves or with other kids.
The paedophile will seek out the kid and try involve himself with what’s going on.
The relative who always insists on making your kid sit on his lap. The guy at the slide who helps all the kids. The social leader (preacher, scout leader etc. etc.) who is “cool” because he hangs out with the young teenagers as if he’s one of their friends.
Does this guarantee a paedophile? No, but the evidence is adding up.
Spot a pedophile #2 They’re handsy
Nobody needs to be touching a kid that much. You don’t need to help every single kid up and down the slide. You don’t have to tickle every kid there.
That sports coach who puts his hand on everyone’s shoulder or back when he talks to them? The church youth leader who greets every kid with a warm hug? The occasional family friend who stands close enough to be in “close personal friend” space?
Pay attention to the guy who is “handsy” with the kids. This ties in closely with the first point.
Spot a pedophile #3 Your kid is uncomfortable around someone
You don’t need any more evidence than that. Kids are amazing judges of character. Trust their instincts.
And no, it’s not just your kid being shy. You know the difference, even if it’s uncomfortable for you to admit it.
Very important! Do not leave your kid to rescue themselves from an awkward situation. You might feel uncomfortable doing something like telling the person to not hug your kid, but your kid needs you to do the uncomfortable thing. Even if you offend or piss someone off. Children are too young to stand up to adults, so you better be mature enough to do it on their behalf.
Spot a pedophile #4 You make excuses for their behaviour
“Oh, so-and-so is so good with kids. He’s always helping them on the slide.”
If you find yourself rationalising his behaviour with the kids, then stop what you’re doing and look deeper. Why did you feel the need to think that about him? Our minds will often take an uncomfortable thought, and find a comfortable way of explaining it to ourselves
You only notice the unusual. Someone doing something normal doesn’t get noticed. Someone either has to do a normal thing exceptionally well, or they have to do something not normal, in order to get noticed.
You wouldn’t rationalise how good someone is at pouring himself a drink, or sitting down. If you find yourself saying something positive about someone stop and think. Is it because they’re doing a normal activity in an unusually good way such as winning a race or fancy bottle flips before pouring a drink? Or is it what they’re doing that’s actually unusual (“He always plays so nicely with little Johnny when little Johnny is alone in his bedroom.”)
P.S. This also includes explaining away why your kid is uncomfortable around someone. Don’t do that. Just don’t.
Read more of our children’s safety series here.