Safety Planning for an Adult Worried about Their Own Sexual Thoughts or Feelings Towards Children

Get help before you act on your sexual thoughts or feelings towards children.

Even though it may be hard to tell someone you are having sexual thoughts or feelings towards children, it will be much harder to get help after you have harmed a child. Find someone you can talk with about your feelings. Using this website or calling the Stop It Now! Helpline (1.888.PREVENT) are two good resources for finding the help you may need.

If you are worried that you might act sexually towards a specific child, ask an adult you trust for help. By letting another adult know about the risk, you have taken a step towards protecting yourself and the child. They can help assure that you are never alone with the child or children. They can support you emotionally and help you to find the help you need to stay safe. They can watch for warning signs and take action before you do something you’ll regret.

Avoid situations that might tempt you, for example being alone with a child or using alcohol, drugs or other substances that affect your judgment. Alter your route or schedule so that you are less likely to be around children. Consider moving, temporarily or permanently, if you are living with a child that you are having sexual thoughts or feelings toward. If your use of pornography is feeding your sexual thoughts about children, stop viewing it. Some people remove their computers or put them in shared spaces where others can see the screen to reduce their temptation to view.

Seek professional help from a therapist who specializes in working with people with sexual behavior problems towards children. A specialized therapist will have experience working with other people with similar concerns and can share additional tools and suggestions that you can use to keep yourself safe.

Seek appropriate outlets for your sexual thoughts or feelings. Sexual feelings can be hard to ignore. Sometimes people try very hard to deny their sexual feelings. It can be healthier to seek appropriate outlets (adult relationships, masturbation to fantasies with adults, etc.) than to try to hold in or avoid sexual feelings.

Increase your appropriate social activities Rather than spending time around children, consider options for increasing your interactions with adult peers. For example, you can take a community education class, volunteer to work with adults, join a social club, start a new sport or hobby. Find safe ways to spend your time that make you feel good about yourself.

Remind yourself of the high cost of acting on your sexual thoughts or feelings towards a child. Acting on your sexual thoughts or feelings is illegal and can get you in a lot of trouble. Most people who sexually abuse children believe they won’t get caught or that they are smarter than the authorities. When they are caught, they are often surprised about the high consequences for themselves, their loved ones, and the child they harmed. They may lose their jobs, their homes, their families, and their social standing in their community. Those who are convicted of sexual offenses have to register as sex offenders, sometimes for the rest of their life. Get help before you cross the line.