In May, Mother’s Day was celebrated and in June it will be Father’s Day. Parents should be celebrated and thanked for raising their children. Well-meaning parents can unintentionally raise a stalker. How does that happen?
Children learn more by watching than by hearing and can be taught to be obsessive about another person. The first time I was contacted about a case involving two six-year-olds I thought it was a just an oddity. I didn’t realize until I had received other cases involving obsessive children that they were being trained by a parent, usually the mother.
A child comes home from elementary school and tells a parent that Bobby is her boyfriend. This is not unusual and by next week it could be someone else. But the parent is obsessive and tells the child that she has met the one she will marry. The obsessive mother then begins a campaign to become best friends with the child’s mother. The father may also be drawn into the obsession. The targeted child and his family don’t understand why they are being harassed by the obsessed family. The targeted boy just wants to be left alone (the goal of most stalking targets) and go on with his life. Children have ended up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at young ages from being targeted.
You may be able to identify the obsessive adult by listening to the child and who he/she quotes the most. “My mom says, or dad says.” It could also be another adult in the child’s life.
No, I don’t call young children stalkers, but they are learning tactics that may follow them into their teens, and adulthood. What are parents telling their children?
“Never give up, you can achieve whatever you want in life through commitment and determination.”
“Do not take no for an answer”
Set your goals and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way”
Most people would consider these statements to be positive and they are in certain circumstances. But what about relationships? Stalker never give up, are determined, do not take no for an answer, set goals and do want anyone to get in their way.
Are your children being taught respect, and do they understand that not everyone is going to like them? How you handle rejection, anger, revenge and other issues may impact how your child responds. If you get mad and start ranting about what you are going to do to the person who has made you angry, you are setting an example. Its not that we don’t get mad, but how we handle it.
Abusers, usually males, use their children to monitor their ex-partner. Equipment may be provided to video or record the other parent. Often the child gets caught and they become very upset because they will not have anything to report to the abuser. These children are being trained to stalk their partners.
In today’s world of social media, children are using electronics to bully and harass others. They are also being lured by predators. Some parents are raising abusers, stalkers, and other criminals. Others are training their child on how to become a victim. What are you teaching your children?
My recommendation is that you ask children from early ages on what they would do if someone didn’t like them, if someone was paying unwanted attention to them, or if they feel uncomfortable around someone. You don’t want to terrify your children, but you need to be aware of how they would handle certain situations.
Parents should not allow anyone to have unlimited access to their children without monitoring. This includes clergy, teachers, other family members, public figures and anyone else.
If a child reports inappropriate touching or sexual assault, law enforcement or child protective services should be contacted immediately. A forensic interview may be scheduled. Cases have been compromised because an untrained person questioned a child.
Children are a gift from God. Love them, set boundaries, discipline them appropriately and be aware of the role models in their lives. If you need help with an issue, seek counseling. Let children know its okay to ask for help. God bless parents, guardians, grandparents – anyone who is raising children.
A section on “Do Children Stalk?” is available in Stop the Stalker – A Guide for Targets. The warning signs are listed. betsyramsey.com – Books by Betsy