Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says, “We know for a fact that those who prey upon children are people who seek legitimate access and don’t look like stereotypes. These are doctors, lawyers, pastors, schoolteachers, executives and even police officers; it really crosses the societal spectrum. The vast majority don’t look the way children expect them to look. We’ve done focus groups with kids. They all get the idea they shouldn’t talk to strangers. But when you ask them what a stranger is, it’s invariably somebody who is big and scary and dirty and ugly: people who look like they are going to hurt you. But really, [the pedophile] is far more likely to be someone who is a friend, a coach.”Unfortunately, we live in an age where the exploitation of children is on the rise. Here are 5 ways to protect your child from a pedophile:

1. Get Active in Your Children’s Life. Make sure you know who your children are spending time with, the adults they come in contact with on a regular basis or what they are doing at a friend’s house.

2. Make Time To Take Part in Your Children’s Life. Pedophiles look for children who appear to be on their own or whose parents don’t pay much attention to them. Pedophiles participate in activities where children are, so getting involved in your children’s life can help set up a barrier between your children and a pedophile.

3. Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Can Take Place Anywhere and at Any Time. This isn’t just a “big city” problem. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that on average, there is one child molester per square mile. In Canada, that means on average, there is one child molester per 1.6 square kilometers. Be aware of the people who live in your community, and watch those who seem to have an unusual interest in children.

4. Make Sure Your Children Know the Proper Name of Their Anatomical Parts. Pedophiles often adopt cute names for the “sexual” parts of a child’s body, and if your child knows the proper name, it may prevent a sexual attack. A knowledgeable child projects power and may scare off a sexual predator.

5. Listen To Your Intuition – Teach Your Children to Listen to Their Intuition. Intuition is a natural defense system and as we grow older, it becomes more refined. It is designed to protect us from harm or dangerous situations. Make sure your children understand this – if they feel uncomfortable, get out of that situation. If they feel unsure about doing something, don’t. If they don’t want to go with a certain person, don’t make them. Stop caring about politeness and think about safety first!

THINGS TO REMEMBER…

1. If Your Child is Sexually Abused, Don’t Blame Them. Often times, the abuser will make a child feel as if they contributed to their abuse. A child is never at fault – adults know better and must accept full responsibility for their actions.

2. You Probably Won’t Recognize a Pedophile. Despite the picture people may have of a pedophile, there is not one “look” for a sexual predator. They come from a variety of backgrounds, professions, and ethnic backgrounds. Usually the pedophile is known by both the child and you.