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For the Community

The 11 Methods and Styles Used by Child Molesters

One of the most difficult topics for parents to understand and comprehend is the variety of “methods” that child molesters and abductors use to get physically close to children. One of the primary reasons that this topic is difficult to confront is that the approaches used by adults who “seduce” children appear, to the untrained eye, as normal behavior. To help parents understand how to keep their children safe from these approaches, we have compiled the following list of 11 “methods and styles of seduction” commonly used by child abductors and molesters.

The list was taken from a book written by Seth Goldstein, Esq., entitled "The Sexual Exploitation of Children." This book is used by child abuse investigators across the country and is considered the foremost textbook on this topic. Goldstein gained much of his knowledge while working as a city police officer and investigator for the Santa Clara and Napa County, California, District Attorney’s Office, where he specialized in child abuse cases for 13 years. During his years in the field, he worked one-on-one with many children and their families to bring the molesters to trial. Goldstein was also one of the founding members on the Board of Directors of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

 
Goldstein worked with a group of professionals to develop the investigative techniques which have become the standard. The training curriculum they developed is used by the U. S. Department of Justice. According to Goldstein, the following common characteristics of sexual exploitation have been drawn from the vast number of cases of sexual abuse that have occurred in this country.
 
As you’ll see from the list, child molesters are very clever. They have tried-and-true ways to gain access to children and to disguise their inappropriate and unlawful activities from the eyes of caring adults. Basically their approaches with children are similar to the persuasive sexual approaches adults use with other adults; however, children don’t have the sophistication to understand what is happening. The fact is, the child molester pursues his prey with a purpose and will use any method that works. Goldstein makes a direct comparison between stalking prey and the seduction of children. “The offender, once he has targeted a child, will track down and methodically approach the child and begin to work on seducing him. All the while performing actions that appear, on the surface, to be normal. When in actuality he is introducing the child to sexuality.” All parents and guardians of children should understand these methods and styles of seduction used by child molesters so that they can keep their eyes and ears open for inappropriate actions and help children to live their young lives free from a molester’s desires.
  

Methods and Styles of Seduction

1. Affection and Attention

For the most part, a child is seduced in the same way as one adult seduces another. The offender takes him places, buys him things, impresses the child with his own personality, makes the child feel loved and indebted to the offender, then becomes physical with the child. It starts subtly, by holding hands, placing an arm over the shoulder, or putting a hand in the lap, then graduates to more explicit conduct.
 

2. Mislabeling the Activity

  Another common method of seducing the child is to misrepresent what the offender is actually doing. This could be done by tricking the child into performing a sex act or by using a legitimate activity to achieve physical contact with the child, from which the offender can derive sexual gratification. In one case, a man who engaged in sexual activities with 8-to-9-year-old boys liked to play a game called “monster,” in which he would wrestle with the boys and touch their genitals and other areas. All of this was accomplished without the child’s knowing what was actually going on. From this kind of activity, the offender will graduate to more blatant touching. After the child feels more comfortable with the idea of the offender breaking the barrier of “personal space,” the offender will advance to sexual play. Another common ploy to trick the child into an act is to tell the child that what is being done is for a purpose other than the real one. For example, a young child was seduced into posing for photographers by being told that the offender was taking pictures for a publisher of medical books -- the pictures, he said, were to assist doctors in teaching others about sex.
 

3. Misrepresentation of Moral Values

Possessing little experience or knowledge, the child is often easily convinced that what the offender wants is a legitimate activity. It is easy to understand why children acquiesce to the demands of the child molester, considering the vast literature on sex with children and sex manuals that are on the market. The molesters frequently leave this type of literature out and available for children to “discover” by accident, or the offenders specifically show it to the child. In many cases, children have been shown films that are either sexually graphic or suggestive.
 

4. Slow/Subtle Exposure to the Concept of Sexual Activity

By constantly talking about sexual activities in the presence of the child, the offender slowly indoctrinates the child into the world of sex.
 

5. Curiosity

Another style of seduction is to pique the child’s curiosity. This is often done by leaving sexually oriented materials out and available to the children. This leads to conversations about sexual matters.
 

6. Narcotics and Alcohol

The use of narcotics and alcohol by the child molester is commonplace. What better way to get a child to a place he wouldn’t ordinarily go than to provide him with something he can’t ordinarily get? The use of alcohol is mostly limited to the older child; however, it is also a common denominator in some cases involving young children.
   

7. Misuse of Authority

This may take two forms. In the first, the offender takes advantage of his position of authority over a child, as in the following example. A Boy Scout leader told the children in his troop while on several outings to disrobe. Over a period of time he graduated from fondling them to orally copulating with them. Each time he told them not to tell anyone. In the second type of misuse of authority, the offender takes advantage of a position of special trust and represents the activity as legitimate, using his authority, stature and position to convince the child that what he wants is OK.
 

8. Rewards and Bribes

A very common style of seduction is the use of rewards. Sometimes the child is told in advance what he will receive if he cooperates with the offender. Other times the offender doesn’t tell the child until after the act. Soon the child learns that by doing what the offender wants, he can have his own way. The reward may be as elaborate as a car or as simple as an ice cream cone, depending on the circumstances. Children are easily lured into big money by promises to make them Hollywood stars. The hopes of grandeur, and comparisons made by the offender between the child and the child’s idols such as Brooke Shields, often make them easy prey. Modern advertising is often shown to the child, especially advertising that accents the sexuality of young children, to convince the child of the propriety of the acts.
 

9. Blackmail

Once the child has been placed in a compromising situation-sexually or otherwise-the offender can obtain some control over the child by threatening exposure. The offender knows that the child feels guilt and shame. The offender also knows that most children have very little self-esteem or confidence and they feel helpless in the situation. A deep concern of many children who have a close relationship with the offender is the fear of being taken away from their families. This threat may be expressed or implied by the offender, or it may be developed by the child with no direct threats being made.
 

10. Use of Pornography

Both child and adult pornography is often used by the child molester to seduce the child. In addition to misrepresenting moral standards, the pornography can be used to demonstrate the acts in which the offender wishes to engage. It may also be used to stimulate the child’s interest in the depicted activities and lower the child’s inhibitions.
 

11. Threats

Rarely is a threat of harm used to get the child to comply with the act. The only time a threat becomes necessary is to keep the child quiet and to continue participating in what the offender desires. For the most part, threats are made that imply negative consequences for both the victim and the offender if there is disclosure.
 

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