7 ways to protect your kid against predators

By Anita Yee   — September 07, 2016
  • Teach your child about safe use of social media
    1 / 5 Teach your child about safe use of social media

    When you see a fin cutting through the waves, you know a predator is looking for a victim. But unlike sharks, human predators are not as easy to spot.

    This is how one tried to ensnare Kate (name changed to protect her identity), who is 12 years old. She, like her peers, cannot do without social media. 

    And social media draws predators like moths to flames. Sure enough, Kate met a “friend”, who claimed to be her age.

    But then this “friend” kept sending her pornographic content Fortunately, her parents discovered it in time, which could have prevented something more serious from happening, said her counsellor.

    Ms Frances Yeo, psychologist at Thomson Medical Centre, treated Kate.

    She said although Kate had communicated with the stranger, she had been wise enough not to reveal her identity.

    While children these days seem more savvy, counsellors The New Paper spoke to said children are still vulnerable to strangers.

    These are the tactics paedophiles use to catch their prey: 

    (Click on arrows in photos to read more)

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  • They offer things children want
    2 / 5 They offer things children want

    Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director for Youth Services at the Singapore Children’s Society, said: “Some children  those who spend time alone or who are (on) the streets alone  are possible targets for strangers.

    “Especially if they can offer items that these children want”.

    Tahir Hassan, 49, was sentenced to 11½ years of jail and 15 strokes of the cane recently after pleading guilty to four counts of outrage of modesty. The married supermarket sorter and packer, who had been trawling playgrounds and void decks for 13 years, knew how to entice victims.

    He had entered the home of two children by offering them light sticks. On other occasions, he sold children perfume, massage lotion, or lured them with promises of boosting their eyesight and intelligence.

    Psychologist Daniel Koh of Insights Mind Centre said children’s mental development also comes into play. He said: “At their age, children look at what’s in front of them, like sweets, or someone being nice to them.

    “They could be distracted by such offerings, and may not realise what is being done to them.”

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  • They psychologically groom children
    3 / 5 They psychologically groom children

    Psychologist Frances Yeo, said: “These kids (who spend time alone) are more likely to want to be liked. And the predators will use psychological grooming tactics to develop a relationship before abusing them.

    “Psychological grooming (features) deliberate, intentional tactics that offenders use to select and engage their victims, such as using gifts, acts of services to develop a close relationship with the child.

    “Once the offenders have developed a relationship with the child, they will also groom them not to tell anyone about the abuse, sometimes even using fear to stop them from telling others.”

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  • They pretend to be harmless
    4 / 5 They pretend to be harmless

    Predators also portray themselves as being harmless.

    Parenting specialist Sarah Chua from Focus on the Family Singapore said: “Young children often think that dangerous people look scary like in cartoons. This is not true and parents need to address that.”

    Mr Koh agreed: “Child abuse can also be carried out by professional-looking people, thus making it harder for children to assess who is who.”

    This is where parents come in, said Dr Balhetchet.

    She said: “Parents, or rather, caring guardians, need to be vigilant and from time to time check on their children, especially when they are alone at home. 

    “Parental love is all about caring and maintaining the connections, not about control.”

    Beyond checking, children should also be taught to look out for specific behaviour.

    Mr Koh said: “Teach them to be wary of unknown people asking who is at home, randomly giving or asking for things, or coming closer to the door.”

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  • Advice for parents: 7 tips
    5 / 5 Advice for parents: 7 tips

    1. Check on your children from time to time.

    2. Home should be secured.

    3. Teach children boundaries when encountering a stranger: Do not open the door to strangers, do not talk to them without any trusted adults around, do not accept their offers.

    4. Coach children to recognise suspicious behaviour, such as strangers asking who is at home, asking to keep a secret from their parents, giving or asking for things.

    5. Play out what-if scenarios such as “What if a stranger says mum told him to fetch you from school?” Prep your child how to say no to anyone who makes them uncomfortable, how to call for help and how to make a quick getaway when in danger.

    6. Educate children about not communicating with strangers on the Internet.

    7. Teach children the world is still a caring place, but there are a handful of people who may take advantage of them.

    A version of this story first appeared in The New Paper. 

    (Photos: 123RF.com)


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