We were reminded of the chilling tactics that child sexual predators use to attract new children when audio recordings of an actual child rapist surfaced earlier this month. Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle is expected to plead guilty to child porn and child sex charges after evidence – actual recordings of conversations Fogle had with an FBI informant – gives details on how he, and other child predators, groom their victims.
Here’s some of the things Fogle is accused of:
- Using his promotional appearances at middle schools to identify young, female victims
- Asking a woman to throw to party for young kids so he could lure victims
- Requesting the same woman to put a camera in her child’s bedrooms
The tapes are a disgusting reminder of how child predators operate, and reinforce the necessity to incorporate child safety training into your background screening procedures.
Ministries have a duty to protect children. When they don’t, survivors lives are forever changed, families are consumed by guilt and anger, congregations can get ripped apart, and reputations may never be restored. Conducting thorough background checks is the first step. Mandating child safety training for employees, volunteers, teachers, and anyone who comes in contact with children should be the next step.
It’s All in the Approach
In the recordings, Fogle admits that he, “likes all ages.” The recordings were heard for the first time in the course of two episodes of the daytime talk show, Dr. Phil. Click on these links to watch the actual shows:
Like many child predators, Fogle discusses how he “grooms” not only the abuse survivor, but his/her families, too. “We just start sharing stories, and then, you know, we get a little closer, and a little closer, and a little closer, and before you know it…it just starts to happen,” Fogle says.
These grooming tactics are well-known among many child safety advocates, but, unfortunately, aren’t recognized enough outside of that circle.
What Are The Signs?
The national child abuse prevention organization “Darkness to Light,” says “grown ups are solely responsible for the safety of children. It’s important to teach children how to recognize and avoid risky situations, but it’s unrealistic to think that a child can fend off sexual advances by an adult. Fortunately, we can protect them – by insisting on prevention policies in our youth serving organizations, by recognizing signs of sexual abuse, and by confronting and stopping abuse if it occurs.”
It might be hard to understand that child sexual abusers don’t always “look” or “act” the part, despite what you see on TV shows. In fact, most predators go to great lengths to appear trustworthy and kind to children and family members – this is part of their “grooming” tactics. They want to come across as trustworthy and friendly so they would never even be suspected of evil-doing.
There is no one way to groom a child and his/her family, just as there is no one way to spot a predator. There are, however, some things parents and other caring adults can look for, and in turn, become more vigilant in protecting their kids. Here’s a list of warning signs adults can look for:
• Doesn’t appear to have a regular number of adult friends and prefers to spend free time interacting with children and teenagers who are not his own;
• Finds ways to be alone with a child or teen when adults are not likely to interrupt, e.g. taking the child for a car ride, arranging a special trip, frequently offering to baby sit, etc.;
• Ignores a child’s verbal or physical cues that he or she does not want to be hugged, kissed, tickled, etc.;
• Seems to have a different special child or teen friend of a particular age or appearance from year to year;
• Doesn’t respect a child’s or teen’s privacy in the bathroom or bedroom;
• Gives a child or teen money or gifts for no particular occasion;
• Discusses or asks a child or teen to discuss sexual experiences or feelings;
• Views child pornography through tapes, photographs, magazines or the Internet. (In addition to being an important behavioral sign, possessing, viewing and/or selling child pornography is a criminal offense and should be reported.)
Child Safety Classes Arm You With Knowledge
Ask any organization that has experienced a case of sexual abuse and they will tell you that knowing what they know now, there is NO amount of time that would have been too great to spend on prevention and educating their staff and volunteers.
When employees and volunteers have an awareness of the basic characteristics of a sexual abuser, the process by which an abuser picks and prepares a child for abuse, and indicators of child sexual abuse, they are better equipped to recognize and prevent abuse in an organization’s programs.
It’s up to EVERY ministry to pro-actively include child safety classes so that EVERY employee, volunteer, office administrator, bible study leader, youth group chaperone, and heck – even parents who want to be educated and informed – gets the opportunity to learn what they can do to keep children safe.
Ministries are uniquely challenged to get this right because people TRUST you to keep their children safe. You are the one place, the one safe haven, that people feel they can turn to find peace and comfort in their lives.
As a provider of online child abuse prevention training, Protect My Ministry can play a critical role in helping you protect our children. Background checks alone will not prevent child abuse from occurring in your organization. Background checks and child safety training – when part of a comprehensive child protection program – can prevent abuse.
Protect Our Children
If a Jared Fogle slipped through your church doors and victimized even just one child – you would never forgive yourself. Together, we can make a difference and work to end child sexual abuse.
Protect My Ministry has the knowledge and training… all you have to do is ask us to share it with the people within your organization. Call us today at 1.877.319.5587.