Dodging the Bulletin highlights important topics, real-life cases, and helpful guidance and ideas to keep employees and organization safe.

Keeping Our Children Safe Series: What Child Sexual Abuse Actually Means

This article is Part 2 in a 5-part series on keeping our children safe. Each month, we will introduce you to important topics regarding child sexual abuse and molestation either commonly misunderstood or rarely discussed.

This article focuses on what child sexual abuse actually means, the different types, and clarifying common myths.

This article will provide you an overview on the following topics:

  • contact and non-contact sexual abuse
  • online child sexual abuse
  • child sexual exploitation
  • grooming

When a child is sexually abused, they might not understand what is happening is wrong and they might be afraid to tell someone. Sexual abuse can happen anywhere, and it can happen in-person or online. Touching is not required for sexual abuse to happen. It is never a child’s fault they were sexually abused, and it is important to make sure children know this.

There are 2 main types of sexual abuse: contact and non-contact abuse.

Contact abuse is when a sexual predator makes physical contact with a child. This may include:

  • Sexual touching of any part of a child’s body, whether clothed or not
  • Using a body part or object to rape or penetrate a child
  • Forcing a child to take part in sexual activities
  • Making a child undress or touch someone else
  • Kissing
  • Oral sex

Non-contact abuse is when a child is abused without being touched by the sexual predator. This can happen in-person or online and may include:

  • Either a predator or the child exposing or flashing themself
  • A child having to view pornography
  • A predator exposing a child to sexual acts
  • Forcing a child to masturbate or a child forced to watch a predator masturbate
  • Forcing a child to make, view, share, or distribute child abuse or child pornography images or videos
  • Forcing a child to take part in sexual activities or conversations online or through a smartphone

The next topic is online sexual abuse or “cyber molestation.” As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, a common myth is child sexual abuse required a child to be touched. It does not. This is a myth. Sexual abuse is not just penetration. It can happen online and very commonly does.

Online sexual abuse is a type of non-contact abuse where a child is abused without being touched by the abuser. Online abuse can happen across any device connected to the web like computers, tablets, and mobile phones. It can happen anywhere online, including:

  • Social media
  • Text messages and messaging apps
  • Emails
  • Online chats
  • Online gaming
  • Live-streaming sites

Children can be at risk of online abuse from either people they know or from strangers. It may also be part of other abuse which is taking place offline, such as child sexual exploitation or grooming.

The next type of child sexual abuse is child sexual exploitation or “CSE.”

CSE can be either contact or non-contact abuse and can happen in person or online. In this type of abuse, an abuser will gain a child’s trust or control them through violence or blackmail before moving onto sexually abusing them. This can happen in a very short period. When a child or young person is exploited, they are given things, such as gifts, drugs, money, status, and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Like other forms of abuse, children and young people are often tricked into believing they are in a loving and consensual relationship. They may trust their abuser and not understand they are being abused.

Children and young people are commonly trafficked throughout the world to be sexually exploited. Sometimes abusers use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child, making them feel as if they’ve no choice. An abuser may lend a child large amounts money they know cannot be repaid or use financial abuse to control them.

Anybody can be a predator of CSE, no matter their age, gender, or race. The relationship with the child can be framed as friendship, a mentor, or even romantic. Exploited children may also be used as bait to “find” or coerce others to join CSE groups.

When a child is sexually exploited, especially online, they might be persuaded or forced to:

  • Make, view, share or distribute child abuse images or videos of either themselves or others
  • Film or stream sexual activities, including masturbation
  • Have sexual conversations
  • Expose or flash themselves
  • Be shown pornography

The final type of sexual abuse we’ll be discussing in this article is grooming. Grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit, traffic, or sexually abuse them, either in-person or online. The proliferation of social media, messaging and live-streaming apps in recent years have seen a dramatic increase in reports of this crime online.

The grooming stage commonly does not involve touching, but it is still a type of child sexual abuse. In this stage, a child may trust their abuser and not understand they are being abused. Groomers will commonly build a relationship with the young person’s family or friends to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative.

Grooming can take place over a short or long period of time, from weeks to years. A groomer can be anybody, no matter their age, gender, or race. There is no “stereotypical” look a person may have. A groomer could be a family member, a friend, a stranger, or someone the child knows who has targeted them (i.e., teacher, faith group leader, or sports coach). When a child is groomed online, groomers may hide who they are by sending photos or videos of other people. Sometimes this will be of someone younger than them to gain their trust.

The relationship a groomer builds can take many different forms. Come of these may include:

  • A romantic relationship
  • As a mentor
  • An authoritative figure
  • A dominant and/or persistent figure

Whether online or in person, groomers commonly use the following tactics:

  • Pretending to be younger
  • Giving advice or showing understanding
  • Buying gifts
  • Giving extra attention
  • Taking the child on trips or outings

Groomers may also try and isolate children from friends and family, making the child feel dependent on them and giving the groomer power and control. The groomer might use blackmail to make a child feel guilt and shame or introduce the idea of “secrets” to control, frighten and intimidate.

For more information on the warning signs of perpetrators and child sexual abuse victims, as well as how to respond and what to do if a child reports sexual abuse, clients can refer to those specific training videos and policies.

Fact or Fiction?

“I don’t need to check a candidate’s references. I don’t have time to do it and I can tell what kind of employee they will be just from the interview.”

According to a survey, 58% of hiring managers reported they had caught a lie on an applicant’s resume and 33% of hiring managers surveyed reported they have been seeing an increase in false information.

Checking references is vital for finding the best applicants and preventing such resume fraud, yet companies need to be cautious about the questions they ask during a reference check. 

How Do I Ask an Applicant for References? 

References can be requested at the time of application or during an interview. To get the most honest and truthful information, an employer should as for at least 3 professional references, 2 of which should be in a position superior to the applicant. The following information should be received for each reference:

  • Name
  • Position
  • Company
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Work Address
  • Years Known

An applicant should always be aware ahead of time an employer may be contacting them.

Sample Questions to Ask References

There are many questions to ask of references. These questions are likely to elicit substantive and material information about the applicant as well as information that could be warning signs or red flags to an applicant that could be potentially violent and/or dangerous.

If the Reference was a Superior of the Applicant

  1. How did they meet the challenges of the role and manage the pressure of the job?
  2. Were there any workplace conduct or ethical incidents caused by this applicant when they worked for your company? Please describe.
  3. Is the applicant eligible to be re-hired and would you re-hire them? Why/why not?

If the Reference was a Coworker of the Applicant

  • What were the easiest and most challenging aspects of working with the applicant?
  • Did s/he get along well with management and co-workers?
  • How did the applicant handle conflict? How about pressure? Stress?

It is imperative to the safety and livelihood of your organization and employees to ensure no one slips through the cracks. Due diligence by reference checking can save your business and even a life.

ePlace developed a comprehensive policy for client’s on how to properly conduct reference checks as well as:

  • Tips on speaking with references
  • Questions you should never ask a reference
  • Common red flags
  • A sample reference check letter
  • Many more sample questions

We urge employers to follow these guidelines and implement the best practices of interviewing strategies.

What’s Your Industry?

A registered sex offender was discovered driving for Uber Eats in Nashville, Tennessee. This was the 7th time he has violated his sex offender registration terms.

Did you know?

Uber received 5,981 reports of sexual assault during a 2-year period from 2017 to 2018 and 3,824 reports from 2019-2020. These crimes ranged from unwanted touching and kissing to rape. That is almost 10,000 reports in a 4-year period and those are just the crimes actually reported.

These horrific crimes are avoidable. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to minimize risk of victimization and significant losses to your organization.

1: Create thorough job applications.

2: Conduct Behavioral Interviews with every applicant.

3: Check all references.

4: Conduct comprehensive background checks on all employees both pre-hire and post-hire.

5: Create or update an existing Employee Handbook with all of the below information.

6: Know the warning signs of sexual predators, someone could potentially be violent and victims of sexual violence.

7: Have a comprehensive reporting procedure for both employees as well as passengers.

This procedure should include:

  1. What a driver does in the event a report is made about them
  2. How passengers can make a report or complaint to.
    • Passengers need to know who to contact both during and after transportation.

8: Hang Hotline posters where employees have access to the information.

If there is not a communal office, a PDF copy should be provided to all employees. This hotline covers 3 areas:

  1. Employers needing advice
  2. Victims in crisis needing to speak to a trained professional
  3. An employee reporting or complaint number

9: Have clear and organized protocols for investigating all reports of sexual misconduct, no matter how slight it may appear.

This should include:

  • Who has access to the reports
  • Who will be investigating
  • The contact information for each person
  • An explanation of anyone to interview
  • An estimated timeline for a complete investigation
  • Consequences for any finding of sexual misconduct

10: Conduct routine and continuous sexual violence prevention training for all staff at every level including managers and supervisors, drivers, and customer service representatives.

11: Have a policy to routinely check every driver to ensure up-to-date compliance:

  • Driver’s License
  • Vehicle Insurance
  • Vehicle Registration

12: Have a pamphlet in every seatback with information on how passengers can remain free from sexual misconduct and violence while using a ride-share vehicle.