Authored by Angela Coleman in Society
Published on 09-22-2009
Learning to spot a sexual predator is pivotal to keeping your community safe. The news headlines prove every day that we can never be too careful with the safety of our children. Sadly, there are individuals who prey on the innocent and victimize those who cannot adequately defend themselves. Identifying predators isn’t always easy, since some of them are in trusted positions in our communities and don’t always raise suspicions right away. Knowing what red flags to look for can alert you to people who possibly pose a danger to others.
Do some online research. “Googling” an individual’s name may bring up information on an old criminal record or past arrest or trial for sex crimes. You can also try visiting an online registry, such as the National Sex Offender Registry, that lists names and locations of released sex offenders by address and zip code. This will quickly let you know if a sexual predator lives in your community, so that you can inform other neighbors of the fact.
Do some inquiries. If you have “bad vibes” about an individual, ask others in your community if they know anything about this person’s background or if they have felt equally uncomfortable in his or her presence. One thing for certain is that people do talk among themselves, especially if there is a suspicion of inappropriate activities going on. They may have been waiting for another person to confirm their own misgivings.
Be observant. Watch to see if an adult is touching or speaking to a child inappropriately or in a sexual manner. See if he frequently hangs out in places where children congregate, such as playgrounds and parks, without any real purpose, except just to watch children. Sexual predators generally like to be at places where they can easily find vulnerable targets.
Watch out for obsessive behavior. For example, if an adult authority figure, such as a teacher, is always calling your child at home or constantly spending more time alone with your child than is necessary, this could signal that something is not quite right. Sexual predators often use these tactics to get close to their victims. While this may not always mean that the individual in question is a sexual predator, you should caution your child to tell you right away if anything said or done by this adult makes them feel afraid or uncomfortable.
Trust your instincts. Some people don’t want to report their suspicions that a person might be a sexual predator because they don’t want to offend anyone or are scared that they might be perceived as being paranoid. This is especially true if the individual is a trusted or popular member of the community, like a coach or religious leader. Your gut feeling, however, may be right on target and may help avert harm to others.
Form a neighborhood watch. Join with others in your community to look out for any fishy behavior. The more eyes watching, the better chance of stopping a sexual predator.