There are certain things that increase the likelihood of a child being sexually abused. One of these is a child being insecure or lonely. Perpetrators of abuse may target a child they see as a loner or who hovers on the outskirts of social situations. If no one is paying attention to that child, then it makes the attention of the perpetrator all the more desirable to the survivor—and dangerous.

Children who are insecure and lonely are often targeted by bullies. The same kids who are subjected to bullying can also be targeted by groomers, one type of sexual abuse perpetrator. A groomer is someone who showers a child with attention, affection, or whatever it is that they are lacking in their everyday life. This attention will start as friendly, but will slowly escalate to sexual behavior.

A child with lots of friends around them are not as appealing a target as a child by themselves. Just as a child whose parents are rarely around is much more attractive to a potential perpetrator than one whose parents are engaged.

If a child is a target of bullying, they may be more inclined to let their guard down around someone showing concern or sympathy for them. In their need for closeness, they may not notice red flags around a relationship with someone that, in other circumstances, would have made them feel uncomfortable.

Here are three things you can do to help protect your insecure or lonely child from sexual abuse:

It’s not always possible to prevent sexual abuse, but you can lower your child’s risks. Pay attention, stay involved, and educate yourself (and your kid) about child sexual abuse.

Your child may not spell things out for you. They may not know that they are being groomed by a sexual perpetrator. But if you create and cultivate an open dialogue with your child you are more likely to know when something is wrong.
Respond, Don't React
One reason some children don’t tell their parents about things is because they fear the reaction their mom and dad might have. If you hear something alarming or upsetting while listening to your child, give yourself some time to respond instead of react. Too often our reactions are over-the-top and not conducive to repairing the situation.
Be Their Advocate
Be a champion for your child. If something is going wrong in their life you want them to know that you’re on their team.

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