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How to increase your personal safety

  • While there are some safety tips that can help reduce your chance of victimization, assaults are never the result of things the victim did or did not do.
  • Remember, most sexual assaults are committed by someone already known to the victim — strangers are not the primary risk. If you feel uncomfortable in someone’s presence, tell someone. Don’t be afraid to make a scene if necessary.
  • Be thoughtful and use good judgment in choosing friends, partners, and casual acquaintances. This is especially true if you have been consuming alcohol or drugs of any kind; you are more vulnerable when intoxicated.
  • Be cautious of those you meet on the internet — dating websites and apps (such as Tinder) have become increasingly popular recently. Not everyone represents themselves accurately on these forums. When meeting people in person, make sure you are in a safe place and that you are able to leave easily, if necessary.
  • Be observant and aware of your surroundings. Do not leave your food or drink unattended at a party or public place. Don’t be embarrassed to ask security staff to walk you to your car.

Preventing negative interactions with sex offenders

  • You can educate yourself about known sex offenders in your community by contacting your local law enforcement agency or the CBI. Community Notification meetings also provide valuable information about Sexually Violent Predators.
  • Do not go out of your way to bother sex offenders in your community. Creating a negative environment will actually increase the chance that they reoffend.
  • Be aware of an offender’s offense and take precautions if necessary. If you see an offender doing something suspicious or any concerning behavior, you can contact your local law enforcement agency.

Talking to your children about sex ofenders

  • Talking to your child before an assault happens is the best prevention:
    • Let them know that they can talk to you about things that make them feel bad.
    • Instilling strong self-esteem in your child may help them avoid feelings of responsibility and guilt, and make them more comfortable disclosing abuse.
    • Open communication about sexual topics at home can make it easier for children to disclose victimization by minimizing discomfort. If your child has questions or is curious about certain things, do not be dismissive or make them feel bad about asking these questions.
  • Knowing perpetrator tactics and how a child may react can help you detect sexual abuse:
    • Offenders may threaten to hurt the child, a family member, or a pet of the child if they tell anyone about the abuse. This is common regardless of whether the offender is a family member, friend, acquaintance, or stranger.
    • A child often feels that they are to blame for the abuse. The offender may reinforce this by using guilt tactics on the child.
    • Offenders may follow up the abusive incident with treats or gifts for the child. This can be very confusing and make the child feel guilty for accepting gifts and/or for feeling bad about the abuse.
    • It is common for a child to deny that abuse happened, even if it did, or disclose the abuse, and then recant their original statement. This is especially true if the offender is a friend or family member. There is little evidence to suggest that children make false allegations of abuse.
  • Responding appropriately when your child is victimized can make all the difference in their healing process:
    • Always believe your child when they tell you about abuse.
    • If you think abuse is going on, act on that instinct.
    • Don’t force a child to talk about or stop talking about the abuse. Allow them to go at their own pace and be patient.
    • Remind your child how brave they are for telling about the abuse.
    • Get support for you and your child; this is very difficult issue for any one person to handle. Your local child advocacy center is a great place to start for a local resource.
  • Avoid scary details:
    • Use language that is honest and age-appropriate.
    • Include general information, as this may protect them from others who would try to harm them, without confusing or upsetting them.
    • If there is a registered sex offender in your neighborhood or near your home, you should show your child the sex offender’s photo and instruct them to avoid contact with the offender.
    • Encourage them to tell you if the registered sex offender initiates contact with them. In general, sex offenders who are on parole or probation are not allowed to initiate contact with children, and any contact should be reported to your local law enforcement agency.
  • Teach your child:
    • Don’t take rides from strangers.
    • Don’t keep secrets. Tell them it is okay if they tell a safe adult or older sibling instead of you, but make sure they know they can tell someone.
    • Don’t go places alone.
    • Do run, scream, and get away from someone bothering them.
    • Do tell them it is okay to say “no” when a friend or family member makes them uncomfortable. Unwanted tickling, kissing on the cheek, hugging, etc. by a friend or family member, while well intentioned and innocent, can often teach the child that they can’t say no to an adult.
    • Adults are not always right.
    • The importance of honesty and the danger of keeping secrets.
  • Remember:
    • Do talk to your children about inappropriate touching.
    • Do ask questions.
    • Do talk about uncomfortable feelings or interactions, regardless of who it is.
    • Know the people who are involved with your children who are in a position of trust, including friends and relatives.
    • Be aware of any adult or older child/teen who is spending a significant amount of time with your child or seems focused on your child.
    • Be aware of “stranger danger”, but remember that most victims know their offender and most sexual offenses occur in the victim’s or the offender’s home. The offender to be the most aware of is the one the victim knows.

Warning signs in children indicative of abuse

Presence of one of the following does not necessarily mean a child has been victimized, but may prompt you to question your child. If several of the following are present, you may consider seeking professional assistance.

  • Nightmares, trouble sleeping, fear of the dark, or other sleeping problems
  • Extreme fear of monsters
  • Spacing out at odd times
  • Loss of appetite or trouble eating or swallowing
  • Sudden mood swings (e.g., rage, fear, anger or withdrawal)
  • Fear of certain people or places or a distinct behavior change around a particular person
  • Stomach illness all of the time without identifiable cause
  • Regression in behavior (e.g., thumb sucking or bed wetting)
  • Displaying sexual behavior through the use of toys or with other children
  • Using new words for body parts
  • Refusing to talk about a secret he/she has with an adult or older child
  • Talking about a new older friend
  • Suddenly having money
  • Self-destructive behavior (cutting or burning) from teens
  • Unexplained bruises, redness, or bleeding/pain from the mouth or genital area

Red flags indicative of unhealthy interest in children

This list is not all inclusive and is not intended to identify child molesters. However, it is meant to assist parents or others in protecting their children and loved ones.

  • Refuses to let a child set any of his or her own limits
  • Insists on expressing physical affection towards a child or teen even when it is unwanted
  • Overly interested in the sexuality of a child or teen or talks repeatedly about the sexual activities of children of teens
  • Insists on time alone with a child without interruptions
  • Spends most of his/her spare time on activities involving children/teens or with children/teens and has little interest in spending time with someone his/her own age
  • Regularly offers to babysit many different children for free or takes children on overnight outings alone
  • Buys children expensive gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason
  • Frequently walks in on child/teen in the bathroom or violates other boundaries
  • Allows children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behaviors
  • Talks about sexual fantasies with children and is not clear about what is okay with children
  • Makes fun of a child’s body parts or calls a child sexual names (stud, slut, whore)
  • Encourages silence and secrets from children
  • Looks at child pornography
  • Asks adult partners to dress or act like a child or teen during sexual activity
  • Often has a “special” child friend, possibly a different one from time to time

For additional information contact:

Colorado Bureau of Investigation
690 Kipling Street
Suite 4000
Denver, CO 80215
Phone: 303-239-4222
Fax: 303-239-5788
Email: cdps.cbi.sor@state.co.us
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