Webster’s Dictionary includes “training for a particular purpose” in its definition of grooming.   For child molesters, the purpose is a sexual relationship.

Remember:  in the vast majority of cases, the offender isn’t a stranger.  More than likely he (because it usually is a male, but females have been known to offend) will be a member of the family or a close friend or neighbor.  Someone the child knows and trusts.

Convicted abusers explain how they prepare not only a child, but the family, to permit the offense.

  • They will lavish attention on the child and listen intently when they talk.
  • They will study their victim closely in order to offer him or her exactly what they are wishing for;  the new doll or iPhone or shoes or a ride on the motorcycle or a daddy or pizza or someone who admires and understands them…
  • They will ingratiate themselves with the parents.
  • They will create opportunities to be alone with the child, often offering to babysit or take the child on an outing.
  • They will introduce the child to games that involve touching.
  • They will convince the child that these games are a “special” part of their relationship and should be kept “as a secret” .
  • They will take advantage of the child’s natural sexual curiosity and often use pornography to intrigue and shame the child.
  • They will discredit the child so he or she will not be believed when they try to tell of the abuse.
  • They will touch the child while their parent or guardian is in the room to increase the child’s sense of helplessness.  If the child says anything, he can count on the guardian of the child to make excuses for him and dismiss the act, effectively silencing the child.
  • They will say things in public like, “Those *%#@ child molesters ought to be shot!”
  • Because sexual touch is pleasurable, they will point this out to the child.  The predator then uses that to cause the child to feel as though they have provoked the event.

The child will not recognize these behaviors, so we must.  Let’s watch out for the children around us, listen to them and be sure to speak up if we see signs of danger.  Together we can create zero tolerance zones for child abuse and exploitation.


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