Perpetrators of sexual
violence against children, recognise that the opportunity to gain access to a
child without causing unwanted suspicion, is through trust. This trust lays
within the child’s environment, such as, their parents, hobbies or friends.
Statistics suggest that in most
cases, the abuser is well known by the victim, and holds a position of trust to
them, such as family member, close friend, doctor, babysitter or neighbour.
The perpetrator will overcome
external factors such as opportunity, by placing themselves within a situation
which enables them to gain the trust of a child, and it’s parents. It is recognised that one of the methods
perpetrators utilise is ingratiating themselves to parents, for example, at a
school parents evening a teacher may
praise the child’s work whilst offering
extra tutoring to enable the student to improve. This would present the
perpetrator with a valid reason, and opportunity, to have a prolonged timeframe
to get physically close to the child that would not arouse suspicion.
A further approach that
perpetrators use to gain access is by natural opportunity, for example, being a
grandparent would allow unlimited access to a child without raising suspicion.
It is recognised that perpetrators
have actively sought out vulnerable targets such as single mothers in places
where there will be a high concentration of children, such as a schoolyards or
Once the perpetrator has selected
to gain their trust, they will actively seek to gain information about the child and place themselves in surroundings where
they can give their future victim attention.
The perpetrator will seek out to win the trust of the parent/guardian, and over time
exploit a situation to find a valid opportunity to be isolated with the child
without raising suspicions, for example offering the child a lift home. The perpetrator will move to make the
relationship sexual in the isolation stage, for example gradually introducing
innocent activities such as tickling or play fighting (Estey & Bomberger LLP, 2018).