When An Adult's Behavior Worries You

1. Get familiar with early warning signs

Learning about the warning signs that could indicate child sexual abuse can help you identify possible risks to a child, and give you the opportunity to take preventive action.  If you’re not sure if the behaviors that worry you are significant, seek guidance from professionals or organizations with relevant expertise, or talk to other trusted adults who are close to the situation.

Learn more about warning signs.

2. Learn why some adults abuse children

Most children who are sexually abused, are abused by someone they know and trust, yet there is no single profile of an adult who sexually offends children. More often abuse is a process and not a single event. Learning how some abusers may approach children can help you identify patterns of risky behavior, and provide the chance for you to intervene.  Understanding what factors may lead someone to abuse can help you assess your situation.
Read Preventing Child Sexual Abuse to learn more about how abuse happens.

3. Talk directly about concerns

If you are seeing warning signs or risky behaviors, raising your concerns with other adults can be the first step to protecting a child. Staying silent, because you don’t have proof, may leave a child exposed to danger.  Finding alliesi – other trusted adults or professionals – can help you figure out what is needed to address the situation and prevent harm.  If it is safe to do so, speaking directly to the adult you are worried about can, in some cases, lead that person to seek specialized help. 

Read Let’s Talk to learn more about talking directly about concerns.

4. Find specialized help for an adult

Most often adults who struggle with sexual thoughts and impulses related to children require professional help. Specialized treatment focuses on learning strategies for stopping abusive behavior, being accountable and taking responsibility for harm done. For the vast majority of adults who have committed a sexual offense, treatment significantly reduces the future risk of offending.

Learn more about specialized treatment.

5. Get help to assure everyone’s safety

The most effective sexual abuse prevention happens before a child is harmed. Children are safer when adults take the time to get the facts about sexual abuse and behaviors that might suggest a problem early on.  If abuse is suspected, reaching out to protective authorities could lead to the protection of a child, and getting recovery help for the child. Filing a report can result in holding the person who is abusing accountable and getting them treatment so that they will be able to stop abusive behaviors.

Learn about creating a safe environment.