Child Lures Prevention - Parent Guide

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1. The Affection Lure

Most children are abused by someone they know and trust. Children who are starved for attention are especially vulnerable.

Establish a basic understanding of private parts, the parts of the body covered by a bathing suit. Instill a strong sense of body ownership and privacy. It is against the law for any adult, including a family member, scout leader, teacher, neighbor, clergy, etc. to touch a child in “the Bathing Suit Zone.” Children have the right to say "No" to anyone who tries. (Exceptions: Doctors visit with parent/guardian present.)

2. The Pet Lure

Most children love animals and can get caught off guard by lures involving them. Children may be asked to help look for a "lost" puppy or offered the chance to see a new litter of kittens or maybe something more exotic, like a ferret. (Share story of Megan Nicole Kanka – The promise of a new puppy.)

Children should be taught to never enter a home, building or car, or leave a public area with the promise to see any kind of animal, unless accompanied by a parent or trusted adult. If asked to help look for a lost pet, your child needs to ignore the request, get to safety and report the incident to parents and police.

3. The Assistance Lure

Appeals to the helpful nature of children. Perpetrators ask for directions or for help carrying packages to a vehicle or into a building. Some go so far as to pretend to be disabled. Predators may also offer assistance. Of all the lures, this one is the most dangerous threat to human life.

Inform children that adults should ask other adults for help. Give your kids permission to ignore these requests for help. The best defense against this lure is pretending not to hear then quickly leave. Vehicles slowing down and attempt to speak with them, take three steps back and leave in the opposite direction.

4. The Authority Lure

Children are taught to respect and obey adults. Pedophiles take advantage of their positions of authority as coach, clergy, scout leader, relative, etc. to intimidate or force youngsters into abuse or worse. Some predators go so far as to pose as detectives, police and truant officers. They may use badges and uniforms to imitate a real police officer. Youngsters, especially teenagers, are intimidated when accused of shoplifting or other crimes.

Give your children permission to say "No" when necessary. Remember the Bathing Suit Zone. Youngsters should insist on a uniformed officer in a marked car. Warn your children to be extra cautious when accused of a crime and have done nothing wrong. They should never leave a public area against their better judgment.

5. The Bribery Lure

It still works. Children are still being offered candy and toys. Older children are being tempted with sports equipment, compact discs, alcohol and drugs, or – most effective of all – money.


A good secret is one that is eventually told. A bad secret is one that makes you feel upset or you are afraid to tell. These secrets you tell to parents immediately. Sincere gifts have no strings attached and should not be kept a secret. Parents be alert to unexplained gifts. Find out who, when, where, and why.

6. The Ego/Fame Lure

Youngsters can be attracted by the promise of a modeling job, staring in a commercial, a spot in a talent or beauty contest. Others use fake offers of athletic scholarships or sports contracts. They are offered immediate auditions or private tryouts and may be told to keep it a secret from parents. Phony auditions are held in hotel room or other non-public places. Photo and filming sessions often begin harmlessly, then escalate into exploitation and even pornography.

Parents must chaperone all talent pursuits. By law, a parent has to co-sign legal contracts for kids under 18. Credentials of talent scouts should be thoroughly verified before any audition or photo shoot.

7. The Fun and Games Lure.

Bath-time or body contact games like tickling and wrestling may be used as an opportunity to exploit children. Children may be unaware, during these games, that anything out of the ordinary is happening. Games involving the use of handcuffs, ropes, duct tape or other restraints prevent children from protecting themselves or escaping.

Reinforce the concept of the "Bathing Suit Zone." Inappropriate touching during a game, even by another child – is against the law and needs to be reported.

8. The Emergency Lure

By their nature, they require quick responses. By faking a crisis, a predator can trick a youngster into going with them.

Prearrange a specific family plan of action in case of emergencies. Who will contact your child? Who can your child call? Where can they go?

*Family Code Word – Children may share or forget to use it.

9. The Hero Lure

Heroes might include a favorite teacher, coach, relatives or local celebrity. When a youngster’s real-life hero turns abuser, the child might endure repeated abuse in order to maintain the "friendship" or keep their hero out of trouble.

Review concept of the "Bathing Suit Zone" and instruct youngsters to never blindly trust or go with someone who resembles or claims to know a celebrity.

10. The Job Lure

The offer of a job or errand may be just a trick to abuse or abduct a youngster. Even college students are attracted by the promise of high paying jobs. Pay close attention to location of interviews.

Reinforce the importance of getting parental permission before agreeing to any job or chore, including yard work or helping with packages. The safest employment is with a known and established business. Extra caution should be taken when selling or collecting door-to- door. Never enter someone’s home unless accompanied by a parent.

11. The Name Recognition Lure

Backpacks, clothing, sports equipment and other belongings are often marked with nametags by well-meaning parents. This allows predators to call children by name. This can create a false sense of familiarity and trust. The Name Recognition Lure is frequently combined with the Emergency Lure.

Children should not trust or go with someone simply because the individual knows their name. Teach youngsters that predators are expert con artists. If a nametag is necessary. Place them where they are not easily seen.

12. The Playmate/Companion Lure

Some children are led into abuse by a playmate, encouraged by their abuser to involve other kids. Pedophiles may lure youngsters to their home with a party atmosphere, providing toys, sports equipment, favorite foods, swimming pool, etc. Roughly 20% of all sexual abuse is now committed by children against other children.

Know your children’s friends and their families. A sudden dislike of a favorite place or person and conversely, your child constantly spending time at one friend’s house, particularly where there is a single male or a live-in boyfriend. If you feel uneasy, consider declaring that home off limits. If young children start acting out sexually, find out how, where, and with whom this behavior was learned.

13.The Pornography Lure

Pedophiles routinely introduce pornography to set the stage for abuse. Children of all ages are curious about sex. It is not difficult to hold their attention with adult magazines, videos, web sites and e-mail. Children as young as three have been known to innocently imitate behavior they have seen in adult videos or magazines.

Tell children that should an adult (or older kid) show them such material, to make an excuse to leave – and to tell you immediately. Reinforce the Bathing Suit Zone and instruct your children to never remove clothing for photographs or videos.

14. The Threats & Weapons Lure

The size of an adult alone can frighten a child into compliance. Though rare, being threatened with an actual weapon is by the most frightening lure.("It is my word against yours and who is going to believe a kid?" and "Do what I say and you won’t get hurt!")

Blackmail and verbal threats are against the law and needs to be reported immediately. Submitting to threats will only make matters worse. If confronted with a knife, gun or other weapon, scream loudly and run to safety. Most predators will flee when faced with a noisy, attention getting child. Tell children to try and resist becoming paralyzed by fear and following the predator into a car, building or isolated area.

15. The Computer/Online Lure

Over 25 million kids are now online. Even though it provides wonderful learning and communication opportunities it also provides criminals with unlimited possibilities. Internet chatrooms and web sites are regularly visited by pedophiles looking for lonely, rebellious trusting and adventurous youngsters. They can pretend to be any age or gender. This makes it easy to obtain a child’s name, address (home/work) school and personal family details. The goal of the predator is to meet in person. Kids who have agreed to such meetings have been robbed, beaten, raped – and worse.

Things are not always what they seem on the "Net". Familiarize yourself with the Internet and e-mail. Supervise your kids online. Situate computers in high visibility areas of your home – and view the screen at regular intervals.

Secret Internet acronyms:

CTN = Can’t talk now

POS = Parents over shoulder

SA = Sibling alert

TA = Teacher alert

P911 = My parents are coming into the room

Software exists to resist children’s access to inappropriate sites, but don’t underestimate your child’s ability to bypass these controls. They pride themselves on getting around them.

16. The Drug Lure

Drugs, especially alcohol, are used to incapacitate, seduce or lure youngsters into abuse. This is another strong incentive for youngsters to steer clear of drugs and alcohol.

Keeping a clear head is critical to personal safety. Help your child stand up to peer pressure. Encourage extracurricular activities. Children with many interests are less likely to experiment with drugs.

You may –

Set aside time to discuss with your child:

The art and discipline of saying "No!"

Real friends vs. destructive friends.

Natural highs vs. artificial highs.

How drugs rob people of health, careers, lives.

How drugs support organized crime and violent gangs.

Praise your child daily

Trust your instincts

Network with other parents

17. The Lure of Hate and Violence

It is ageless and its cost to civilization is immeasurable. This lure can be irresistible to impressionable youngsters, particularly to those with low self-esteem, a sense of powerless, anger issues, or feelings that they do not belong. Such rage feeds on prejudice against those of different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientation or social standings. Unchecked and unresolved, such hatred can trigger incredible violence.

Teach children to respect, admire, and celebrate the differences in people. Parents have to set the example. If your child is labeled a "Bully", work with the school to find out why and how to fix it. Limit how much violence your child is exposed to. Supervise your children. What are kids and their friends talking about? Explain the importance of reporting threats of violence, including bomb threats, by schoolmates. Foster self-esteem. Children who feel good about themselves treat others with kindness. Reach out to those who don not have positive role models.

For more information you can contact the
Thousand Oaks Police Department Crime Prevention Bureau (805) 371-8329