Never knew about child grooming until this disturbing news came out a few months ago. Very disturbing and alarming news. Especially if you have a little child around who you are trying to teach about trust and goodness in this world. How do you tell him that there are monsters in the guise of an uncle-next-door? Or that the uncle or auntie who is a friend of the family may have ulterior motives?
My heart goes out to the innocent little boys and girls who are too young to know that they have been abused, who still trust the very person who have violated them in one of the worst possible way. It is really heartbreaking to read news such as this, this, this and many more. Truly disgusted with these scums.
Pedophiles are the scums of the earth along with child traffickers, rapists and murderers. It is alarming to find out that a pedophile could be anyone — a teacher, a priest, a babysitter or even a grandfather. They lurk on the Internet, in old folk’s home and sadly, even in your own backyard. There have been times when out walking with my 33-month-old, people would occasionally ruffle his hair, hug him, play with him … and it takes effort not to think that behind those innocent gestures lurk bad intentions. How I wish that I could read minds and know when to punch a pedophile or smile at a friendly gesture. It is certainly great to hear that an anti-grooming software is being developed but there is definitely more to be done.
So, what is child grooming?
Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child — and sometimes the family — to lower the child’s inhibitions for sexual exploitation. It lures minors into trafficking of children, illicit businesses such as child prostitution or the production of child pornography.
A pedophile is not easy to spot. They are deceptive and manipulative. They know how to befriend, gain trust and establish an emotional connection with the child. And in this high-tech age, it is definitely easier for them to lurk behind a screen name pretending to be someone they are not.
Child groomers will look for opportunities to be alone with the child like offering to babysit or have sleepovers. They may buy favors by giving gifts, money, attention. They would take pictures together, hug them, touch them, kiss them, praise them and even show them pornography, with the hopes of making it easy for the child to take such acts as normal. And vulnerable, innocent, trusting children would not know any better.
We need to introduce anti-grooming law. We must stop sexual predators from exploiting our young children. The anti-grooming law, which should clearly define all sexual crimes, including intended sexual abuse, will empower law enforcement agencies to detect and nab the perpetrators before the act occurs. A sexual predator should be charged even if he has yet to harm the victim.
And although talking about sex is still very much a taboo subject, sex education should be introduced to pre-school and primary schoolchildren to help them be aware of sex predators. Public awareness campaigns are also necessary to educate the masses about child sexual abuse, pornography and pedophiles.
I find clear communication with your child is the key. Let him or her know that you are willing to listen to them anytime and can talk about anything at all. Empower them with the knowledge of their body and how to protect themselves. Teach them to shout, complain or even run away if people try to touch them indecently or when they feel uncomfortable.
What else can we do?
First of all, keep a watchful eye over your child. Know who they are with and what they are doing. Look for changes in their behaviour. Communicate.
Also, pledge your support via Unicef Malaysia here.
We should act now. Before it is too late. Before it happens to your child.