By Ozioma Onyenweaku
We shall be in a better position to protect our children if we know the strategies and tactics that the child sexual molesters use. You must note that the thought of sexually molesting a child does not begin and end one day. It is usually a well thought out gradual process. The process starts with first identifying a vulnerable child, and then a gradual seduction of the child.
Let’s look at the identified steps of a child molester: First, the molester identifies and picks his target. How does he pick his target? He looks out for a child who is vulnerable; one who will be easy to deceive. A child who is too trusting and overly obedient is very vulnerable and a target for the molester. When he has picked his target, he moves to the second step.
The second step is the stage where the molester would start giving special attention to the child. The molester would pretend to genuinely care for the child, and the child’s welfare. The molester could even start giving special gifts to the child while revealing no ulterior motive.
The molester cashes in on the fact that children appreciate and love anyone who spends time and plays with them; so he makes out time to be and play with the child. The plays at this stage are clean and innocent. At this stage, the molester works hard to gain the confidence of the child and the family.
He would prove himself a ‘good’ friend of the family. Members of the child’s family may have started referring to the molester as the child’s friend or bestie. Many times you could have heard some people calling out to their child, “Come o! Your friend is here”; and that ‘friend’ could just be anyone who could be working hard to gain the confidence and trust of the family with a view to sexually molest the child.
When the child is sick, the ‘friend’ (the molester) could even volunteer to take the child to the hospital or school.
Having gained the confidence of the child and the family, the molester would start isolating the child from his siblings. He might decide to go playing ball or visiting a cinema alone with ‘his friend’. Sure-footed now, having gained the confidence of the child and the family, the molester would start grooming the child for the real abuse. He would gradually do that by becoming more physical with the child. He could tickle the child in certain parts of the body and asking the child to do same to him in return.
Knowing that children are not good in keeping secret, the molester would move to the stage of training the child in secret-keeping. This would prepare the child to keep it secret when he would eventually molest the child. This, he would do by telling the child to keep innocent minor things secret; such things as the ice-cream he bought for the child or the beach they plan to visit. He would put it in such a way that the child would see everything as fun. The child would begin to keep such ‘harmless’ secrets, and finding much delight in them.
Having taken the above steps, the molester would have gained the trust of the child and those of all involved in the life of the child. To everyone around, the child would seem safe and protected in the ‘loving care’ of the molester. So the stage would now be set for the attack.
The attack itself could be subtle. He could first invite the child to freely touch his genital while he in turn fondles or fingers the child’s genital. He could even start with drama. One molester confessed that his style was to put on porn video, and make the child sit next to him or on his laps; that way, the abuse would follow naturally. So the molester strikes! And the child is defiled! The molester moves over to the cover up stage.
The molester would demand that the child kept it secret. The child could be warned to keep it secret otherwise she would die. The molester could also threaten to kill the child’s parents should the child tell anyone. Using blackmail, the molester ensures the abuse goes on for quite a time until discovered or revealed. Most abuses do not end on the first attempt.
So vigilance is what we need to curtail child sexual abuse; and we cannot err on the side of vigilance.