What does a child abuser look like? (for kids)

Father reading a book to his daughter Well, they aren’t always creepy guys in long coats and wearing sunglasses.  If they were that easy to spot we wouldn’t have so many kids getting hurt today.  A child abuser can be a mother, father, a friendly neighbor, a friend of your parents, someone at your church, or even a teacher.  You can’t really tell by looking at them if they are a child abuser or not.  Child abusers can sometimes look just like normal people.  But there are signs you can look for, ways the person acts around others and things like that, that might let you know the person could be a child abuser.  Here are some things to look for that might help you tell if a grownup is a child abuser or not.

Common signs (characteristics) of a child sexual abuser

  • They’re usually grownups and pretty old.  They’re not always old but sometimes they are.
  • Lots of times they are married and even have kids of their own.
  • They sometimes have other mental problems that make them seem a bit weird to you.  They might look at you funny or just give you the creeps.  Or they might seem perfectly normal…
  • Lots of them drink beer or alcohol too much or take illegal drugs.
  • About half of them have been put in jail before (but probably not for hurting a kid).
  • A lot of them know the kid they are hurting.  The might be a father, mother, aunt, uncle, neighbor, or person at church.  Child abusers are usually not strangers but rather a friend or relative.
  • A lot of them are the father of the kid they are hurting.  These guys need help so you have to tell someone about the abuse.
  • About 1/3 of them are fathers that also hit the mother and sometimes hurt her.  Sometimes they have a history of hitting the kid too (before they begin sexually abusing them).

Common traits (the way they act) of a child sexual abuser

  • Most grownups that abuse kids know that what they are doing is wrong.  They just cannot control it.  They sometimes make excuses to convince themselves that what they are doing is wrong.  They may try to convince the kid that what they are doing is not wrong.
  • They might have a hard time talking to other grownups. They might be scared to talk to them a bit and get quiet when around other grownups.  They may be brave around their home but be nervous when they leave the house and are around other people.  They usually don’t have a problem talking to kids though.
  • They often do things without thinking about it first.  This is called being “impulsive”.
  • Sometimes they were abused as kids themselves.  This is where they learned how to do it.

Many sex offenders (child abusers) are:

  • are grownups that help with other kids like maybe a coach for a team or a boy scout leader.  They do this even when they don’t have a kid in the group or on the team.
  • They talk to kids a lot and touch them a lot (even if it’s just a pat on the head).
  • When they are with kids, they act like kids.
  • They sometimes let kids do things that they shouldn’t when the kid’s parent is not looking.
  • They ask the kids mom or dad to let them take them somewhere alone or watch the kid when the parents have to go somewhere.
  • They know about all the latest cool kid stuff like cool words kids use and cool music that kids listen to.

Adults, there’s a more in depth article, Common Traits of a Sex Offender, here.

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