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  • Writer's pictureProtect Self Defence Team

Tricks are for kids: REAL self defence and safety strategies for kids which work

Article by Phil Thompson featured in Blitz magazine on the Tactics of child predators...

Self Defence for kids starts with awareness and recognition. This article is an excellent start!

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“Tricks” are for kids…

In last month’s article we explored the dangerous myth of “Stranger Danger” and why this popular mantra is ineffective and even dangerous to our kids.

This article is dedicated to exposing the most common behavioural strategies, which we call ‘lures’ that are used by child sexual predators. Once you understand these you will recognise them at work in almost every case of child victimisation you ever hear about. When your children know what these are, and can recognise them being used it will make it virtually impossible for someone to lure your child into danger.

The following ‘lures’ are a few of what our organisation refers to as ‘The Dirty Dozen’. They are the most common strategies and tactics used by sexual predators to lure children. This is not an exhaustive list and because we are limited by the length of the article I have only included five of the twelve that we outline in our book. These are a few of the most common lures and this also highlights how these people operate, so that even if the tactic is slightly different, your child will still be able to see the person’s strategy.

In ‘Empower Your Kids to be Safe…For Life” I also outline ways which we can teach these strategies to our kids to empower them without causing any un-warranted fear. As I wrote last month, our kid’s programs at Protect reinforce that most people are good people who would never hurt a child, but there are some dangerous people out there and we need to know how to stay safe from them.

With all of these lures, remember to reinforce the golden rule: ‘Never let anyone take you or move you to location B without checking with you first’.

Accident and Emergency Lure

Some predators will trick kids into going somewhere with them by faking an emergency situation. Because in an emergency there is an element of urgency, and quick decisions need to be made under pressure, a child’s normal and rational decision making process can be short circuited and they could be lured away.

For example:

“I’m Tom, a friend of your Dad’s. Your Dad has had a bad fall and they are taking him to the hospital. He said that he wants to see you so asked me to pick you up and take you to see him. Get in the car!”

Defensive Strategies:

Explain to your kids that the ‘Accident and Emergency Lure’ is designed to make them worried, confused, and scared, so that they can’t think properly. Explain that if an accident or emergency happened you would never send someone that they don’t know (or not on their “Safe List”) to pick them up, ever. Blueprint a plan ahead of time for what your child would/could do in this situation. Teach kids that if they are home alone they should never open the door to anyone without speaking to you first, regardless of what they tell them has happened (car accident outside, need help to use the phone, someone chasing them, they have been injured, etc).If someone tells them that an accident or emergency has happened they need to verify it as quickly as possible, the best way to do that is to get in touch with you as fast as possible or if you can’t be reached, get in touch with another trusted person (on their “Safe List”).

Care and Affection Lure

Because most children are abused by someone that they know, the grooming process usually starts with indirect, seemingly innocent behaviour that can often not even be detected as sinister by the child. As the trust and control develops in the ‘relationship’ the behaviour escalates into more serious abuse.

By feigning caring, affection, and love the predator will ultimately gain the trust and confidence of the child, which they will then exploit. The children most vulnerable to this lure are those who are lacking affection and/or attention, lack adequate supervision, or are dealing with unsettling issues at home such as neglect, family violence, divorce, or drug/alcohol abuse.

Defensive Strategies:

As per the section of our book on ‘Body Sovereignty’ and ‘Personal Boundaries’, children should:

  • Understand the areas of the body that are their ‘private parts’ (bathing suit zone and mouth) and that it is wrong and illegal for anyone to touch them there or ask them to touch them there,

  • Know about the differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touches, and explain any touch by an adult to their private parts is a bad touch, even if it feels good on the outside, as this person’s love or affection is fake and they are taking advantage of the child and attacking their dignity.

  • Have a strong sense that their body is theirs and they are in charge of it, Understand that they have the right to refuse an adult and that you will support them in doing so,

  • Know the concept of law and that there are laws to protect them from abuse,

  • Know that they can withdraw their consent at any time,

  • Know that secrets, even seemingly innocent ones, are a tool used by predators to put them in danger and should never be kept from you,

  • Let your kids know that they can tell you anything, and that you will believe them and support them.

Parents should be very wary and concerned about any adult, especially males, who take a special interest in your child. Listen carefully to your intuition. Common ‘red flags’ are:

  • Giving money or other gifts

  • ‘Helping out’ by doing favours etc

  • Taking photos and/or video of the child

  • Being involved in activities with the child that parents would normally be (sports, hobbies, schools activities etc)

  • Encouraging secrets, of any kind, small or big

  • Playing games or sports of any kind with children which involve body contact

Blueprint a plan ahead of time for what your child would/could do in this situation.

Animal Lure

Predators will often exploit children’s love of animals by using them as ‘bait’ to lure kids into dangerous situations. Children may be asked to help look for a lost puppy (also see Help & Assistance lure), or be invited to come and look at a new kitten, or a pet possum, or an exotic animal like a lizard or turtle. Baby animals such as puppies and kittens are the most popular with kids and are most often used in the ‘Animal lure’.

Defensive Strategies:

Explain to your children that animals can be used to lure kids into dangerous situations. Children should never go anywhere with anyone, especially into a house or any other private place, without checking with you first. Explain that in the case of being asked to come and see an animal that is out of sight, or help find a lost animal, the child should remember a very simple phrase: “There is no animal!” Tell your kids that when you can see the animal, the person can use it like bait on a fishing hook and they should never go over to see it or follow the person and/or animal anywhere. Blueprint a plan ahead of time for what your child would/could do in this situation.

Name Lure

There is an old saying which goes “Nothing sounds as sweet to someone as the sound of their own name” and sexual predators know this to be true. If a child is called by name by someone, it can create a false sense of trust and rapport, even if they have never seen the person before.

Often times parents will label their children’s clothes, school bag, lunch box, cap, or other items so that the name can be seen by anybody, and that can be, and is, exploited by predators. There are many other ways that a predator can gain access to a child’s name too, including over-hearing a conversation, looking in an open wallet at a service queue, recognising them from a blog, social network, school newsletter or publicity for an achievement, or if the child is being stalked etc. It is very easy in most cases to acquire a person’s name if a predator wants to, and he will use that to his absolute advantage.

Defensive Strategies:

Explain to kids that it is easy for people to find out their name if they really want to, and predators will use that to lure them into a trusting them, and into danger. Explain that just because someone knows their name does not mean that they can be trusted and they should never go anywhere with anyone without checking with you first.Reinforce the importance of not giving out too much personal information online.If you or your child must label their belongings, think carefully about where to put it so that it can not easily be seen and consider using initials rather than full names. Blueprint a plan ahead of time for what your child would/could do in this situation.

Help and Assistance Lure

This lure preys upon children’s natural inclination to want to help. The predator may ask for help and/or assistance in the form of (for example):

  • Offering a ride

  • Offering help to carry items

  • Offering the use of an umbrella, or shelter from the rain

  • Offering the use of their phone or computer

Defensive Strategies:

Explain that it is absolutely OK for children to refuse to help an adult, it is not rude to do so, and that you will support them 100% in that decision.Explain that adults should only ask other adults for help, not children.Explain that although it can be a nice thing to do to help someone in need, it can sometimes be a trick used by child abusers to lure children away from safety. Children should always check with you or another trusted adult if you can’t be reached, before lending a hand to anyone. Remind them that if they are approached by someone in a vehicle to apply the ‘3 BIG steps back’ rule and be ready to run to safety. Blueprint a plan ahead of time for what your child would/could do in this situation.

These are a few of the most common lures used by sexual predators. I hope this helps to gives an insight into a few frequently used strategies and one of the ways in which Child Sexual Predators operate. Most of all I hope that this helps to empower our kids to be safe.

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