Signs an Adult May Be At-Risk to Harm a Child

Someone you care about may be acting in ways that worry or confuse you. The behaviors below could indicate a possible risk that they may a child, but may also be a way for this adult to ask for help. Many people with sexual behavior problems believe that others already suspect they are crossing a line and often wish someone would ask what’s going on or advise them where to go to get help. Remember, you can start a conversation by pointing out harmful impacts on a child without accusing someone of abusive intentions.

Do you have concerns about someone you know in these areas of daily life?


  • Misses or ignores social cues about others’ personal or sexual limits and boundaries?
  • Often has a "special" child friend, maybe a different one from year to year?
  • Spends most of their spare time with children and shows little interest in spending time with someone their own age?
  • Encourages silence and secrets in children?

Sexual interactions

  • Links sexuality and aggression in language or behavior, e.g. sexualized threats or insults, like “whore” or “slut”?
  • Makes fun of children's body parts, describes children with sexual words like “hot” or “sexy” or talks again and again about the sexual activities of children or teens?
  • Masturbates so often that it gets in the way of important day-to-day activities?
  • Has an interest in sexual fantasies involving children and seems unclear about what's appropriate with children?
  • Looks at child sexual abuse material or downloads/views pornography and is not willing to show whether children are involved?
  • Asks adult partners to dress or act like a child or teen during sexual activity?

Personal safety/responsibility

  • Has been known to make poor decisions while misusing drugs or alcohol?
  • Justifies behavior, defends poor choices or harmful acts; blames others to refuse responsibility for behaviors?
  • Minimizes hurtful or harmful behaviors when confronted; denies harmfulness of actions or words despite a clear negative impact?