Grooming - A Common Indicator of Child Sexual Abuse

Approximately 1.8 million adolescents have been victimized by sexual assault in the United States. Research has determined that before reaching the age of 18, approximately 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by a stranger, relative, teacher, clergy member, etc. Sexual offenders often use specific and planned strategies when choosing their victims. In order to prevent child sex abuse, it is important to understand and be able to identify the usual methods of sexual predators.

Grooming to Pursue Sexual Misconduct

One of the most common strategies of child sex offenders is called grooming, which occurs when a sexual offender initiates and begins a relationship with a child. The offender attempts to establish a sense of trust and offers a feeling of security, which might be missing in a “broken” home. If the sexual predator is aware of a child whose parents are divorcing, the family law dispute could be used as their trigger to begin grooming the child.

Sexual offenders often take advantage of these vulnerable children by first spending time with them, listening to them, and possibly even purchasing toys and treats for them. No matter what the child does, the child sex offender will find a way to compliment the child or shower him or her with rewards and gifts. The acts performed by the offender typically start off as smaller, less invasive acts that might appear innocuous to everyone else, but they will soon escalate. This is an intentional yet secret attempt to desensitize the child to true oddity and uncomfortableness of the situation and relationship, allowing the sexual offender to maintain control. A child will often not report the abuse due to feelings of guilt, accountability, shame, and fear.

Red flag behaviors and indications to watch for in children include but are not limited to:

  • Trouble falling asleep or frequent nightmares
  • Developing an uncharacteristic secretive nature
  • Bedwetting at a matured age, or bedwetting recurrence
  • Irrational mood swings
  • Self-harm or wishes to inflict self-harm
  • Becoming withdrawn or unusually clingy
  • Acting sexual inappropriate with toys
  • Noticeable changes in eating habits
  • Using adult words for body parts not learned at school
  • Evidence of physical abuse, such as bruises or scratches

First and foremost, parents should trust their instincts. If you are concerned that your child may have been sexually assaulted, you should contact local authorities at once. In addition, there are various community groups that are able to assist sexual assault victims and the parents of children who have been sexually abused. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact White Law PLLC. We have attorneys available to assist you through this difficult period, no matter where you live in Michigan, and may be able to help you pursue justice and restitution for what happened to your child.