Often we become very excited that our children become engaged and interested in activities. Don't let this cloud your judgment as a caregiver.
Most children are abused by someone they know and trust,
according to the American Psychological Association.
A perpetrator may nurture your child, and try to spend extra time alone with him or her. Be wary of any adult who tends to treat your child in a special way. That is, buys his/her gifts, allows him/her to do things that you don't allow her to do, and tries to spend time alone with his/her. These behaviors cultivate a secret and fun relationship between an abuser and a child, and is a common way that abusers "groom" children and earn their trust and devotion. Stay involved, and foster an open, loving relationship with your child. Be aware of what your child is doing and with whom.
Further, pay attention to any changes in your child's appearance or activity level. That is, if your child starts paying less attention to how they dress, or if they begin exhibiting a more withdrawn demeanor, ask questions. Some children will begin to dress shabbily to deflect the attention of an abuser. They may also pull back from interests they previously enjoyed. Stay involved, even if they push you away.
Mentors can be valuable in a child's life, but there is no better mentor than an involved, loving, and responsible caregiver. There hopefully will be adults in the course of your child's life that will help foster his/her growth and independence. But as caregivers, it is important to model setting appropriate boundaries, and being appropriately wary of, and responsive to red flags.
Penn State sex scandal article: