How to Identify a Pedophile: 8 Warning Signs that Can Help Spot a Child Abuser

Carla L. Hirsch
signs of pedophilia

Parents often hear about cases of child abuse on TV and social media. But, in most cases, they think it happens elsewhere and would never relate to their children. Unfortunately, acts of child abuse happen more frequently than an average parent thinks.

For instance, there were reported 656,243 cases of child abuse in the United States solely. Around 158,900 of those children were aged from 2 to 5.

Child abuse can come in various forms, including psychological, physical, and sexual mistreatment. The worst thing is that child abuse remains common throughout the world. One of the worst cases of it is pedophilia.

Table Of Contents

What Is Pedophilia: Mental Illness or Act of Violence?

Pedophilia, also classified in DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR as paraphilia, is a form of psychosexual disorder in adults. It’s characterized by a wish of a mature person to have sexual relations with children, usually aged 13 or younger.

Pedophiles often start their relations with children from friendship and then engage them in sexual connections. Some cases results in a victim’s death.

Most commonly, a pedophile is an everyman who lives nearby or works at your kid’s school. That’s why it’s important to know the most common signs of pedophilia that can help you safeguard your child from befriending a molester.

warning signs of a child predator

How to Spot a Pedophile: 8 Signs that Can Save Your Child from Abuse

Identifying a child predator can be pretty challenging, as often pedophiles look like common people. Researchers say these are mostly males over 30 years old, married, and those occupying a wide range of job positions (although some prefer being close to kids and choose child-related professions).

Although you can’t say for sure that the one is a pedophile, you can pay attention to the warning signs of a child predator described below.

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*It is important to assume that the following characteristics alone do not determine that one as a pedophile.

  • Unusual Interest in Child Activities

One of the most obvious symptoms of pedophilia is the intensive interest of an adult person in child activities. Most molesters prefer to spend time as if they were kids, rather than choosing activities for adults.

Their hobbies can appear childlike, such as playing with cars or planes and collecting toys. An environment they live in or spend time in is often decorated in a childish manner and can appeal to the age and sex of a victim.

  • Use of “Angelic” Terms to Describe Kids

Pedophiles tend to use divine-related definitions to describe children. If you often notice that an adult corresponds to a child as an “angel” or uses words, such as “innocent” or “pure” too often, it can be a warning pedophile flag.

  • Mental or Mood Disorders

If you know someone who suffers from a mental disorder, they aren’t necessarily a child abuser. However, as pedophilia is classified as a psychosexual disorder, it can be accompanied by other psychic diseases.

  • Good Relations with the Victim

Pedophiles tend to build strong friendly relationships with their victims. They usually concentrate on a single target and work hard on gaining their trust.

Oftentimes, a pedophile turns out to be acquainted with a kid. For example, they can turn out to be a victim’s teacher, neighbor, babysitter, or a family friend. Rarely, an abuser can be a close family member.

symptoms of pedophilia

  • “Friendship” with Vulnerable Children

Predators prefer building relations with shy or withdrawn kids who need support but can’t get it from family. So, pedophiles give their victims care, money, and, finally, become their friends and mentors.

Then, a pedophile engages a child in watching adult movies and browsing explicit pictures. Before the know it, a kid can find themselves enticed in sexual relations with an adult predator.

  • Collections of Pornography

Almost all child abusers collect and keep DVDs with adult movies that they protect at all costs. They can also store child erotic content and child-adult pornography. Sometimes, they obtain “trophies” from their victim: photos and videos taken during the act of abuse.

  • Provoking Anger to Parents in a Kid 

Criticizing the victim’s family members and their approach to parenting is another way for a predator to gain trust. They enable a child to think that parents limit their freedom. They draw a kid from the family by convincing young people they’re old enough to perform adult activities, including sex.

  • Spending Time Alone with a Child 

If a predator is someone you know (e.g. your friend or your child’s coach), they can insist on staying with your kid alone. If you notice they do it too often, make sure to discuss every detail of their time spent together with your child.

  • Active Internet Groomer

In real life, there’s a chance that a kid recognizes a molester by their weird appearance or other signs of a petifile. However, they can barely identify a predator online. Pedophiles can be active social media users where they seek new child acquaintances and choose a potential victim

How to Prevent a Child from Being Abused?

There are federal laws devoted to fighting child abuse. For instance, Megan’s Law requires that local law enforcement notify people about sentenced sex offenders that live nearby or visit their communities. It was passed in 1996 and helped many parents to indicate a pedophile before it’s too late.

However, the law has no power when it comes to uncovered child abusers that pose a danger for kids right now. The only way to prevent children from contacting them is by monitoring the online activity of a kid.

You can use a parental control app, such as mSpy, to detect and block online predators on your kid’s social media account and cell phone contacts.

The mSpy app makes it possible to read your child’s text messages, view sent and received media files, and monitor their calls right from your smartphone. You can also track your kid’s GPS location remotely and get details about their actual whereabouts.

There’s no better monitoring solution!
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Carla L. Hirsch is a writer, editor, and journalist. She has been a staff writer in various US-based periodicals for five years. But then she decided to dedicate her life to traveling and freelance writing.


  • Nice Carla but you should add travels locations too… A single man going to disgusting places such as south thailand islands, koh phangan and koh tao are a strong hint…

  • A friend of mine, her father molested her when she was young and then he started travelling to other countries like Moise mentioned above. She finally got her day in court with him and he didn’t do a long jail term because he was older so they took his passport away. He was flying up into his old age.

  • Apps like Web Watchers track children against the Children’s online privacy policy. Online apps can be used for a bad purpose.

  • I am suspecting one of my neighbours is one. Recently he has become focused on two teenage girls aged 13 and 14 years of age living in the same complex. He also has a camera inside his house. My concern is the fact he watches both girls whenever they are playing in the driveway. He seems to randomly appear and tries to engage with the girls.. he also tried to drag my daughter inside his house.., and is always watching her as well. its so sickening.
    In saying that I keep an eye out for both girls plus my daughter and all the other children in the complex.

    • Good thing you’re keeping an eye on the situation, Nicola! Please be sure to contact the authorities if such behavior doesn’t stop.

  • What if this child has special needs, how much harder will it be to tell especially if he’s nonverbal?

    • Hi! Thank you for your comment!
      Kids, even the ones who can communicate verbally, rarely openly talk about things like that to their parents because they simply don’t realize the weight of the situation. Instead, they may find other ways of expressing their feelings. Most commonly – drawings. It’s always a good idea to let them draw anything they like and then analyze it.
      You can also try to pinpoint slight changes in the behavior of the child – how they react or look at strangers on the street or people you know, whether they get fidgety around certain people, etc.

  • My son has recently told me that a parent walked by him and said what’s up buddy and put his fingers in his mouth.. and didn’t say anything until today but he was thinking that was weird. I have never left my kids alone with anyone we were at a soccer game and I was watching my other son play and did not notice it? Do you think you would say anything or should I be alarmed

  • Niccola, I think you are on to something if your gut instincts tell you this and you are seeing him always trying to talk with them and be aggressive about getting them to enter into his apartment. Please take a video of the way he interacts with them each time, but don’t let him see you do it. Then call the police asap and show them the video. Definitely tell them that he tried to drag one of these children into his house (?!) That is absolutely a Crime here in America. Don’t let any nay sayers (negative people) talk you out of that. Those girls are entitled to protection and not horrific abuse. Please call the police and show them a copy of videos of his behaviors. People get tied up in basements because no one fights for them enough(!) Praying for you and them! Sincerely, Kayla

  • My kids’ dad was charged with child sexual assault and given a short sentence. We still don’t know the truth as he took a plea and the girls didn’t have to testify. The charges against him were from his two step-daughters (a couple years younger than my kids). Both my kids are going through and mental/trauma issues. I am afraid that my kids may know more but they can’t talk. I want the truth to be told so we can all heal from this. My heart breaks for my kids cause they are having feelings of betrayal and they don’t know really know if their dad did this or not.

    • Hi, Tann! I’m so sorry to hear that this is happening in your family. Of course, it would be better if you talked to them about it, but if you’re scared of saying something wrong and hurting them, then maybe it’s better to try getting family counseling?

  • When I was younger I worked for two organizations that fought against child abuse and sex-trafficking of children and young women. We often found that it was a family member that had sexually abused or trafficked the child. I think the actually statistic of child sexual abuse perpetuated by a family member (such as a father, brother, cousin, etc) is 34%.

    I highly recommend updating this article to reflect this statistic because stating that it “rarely” occurs between family members is both incredibly dangerous and seriously inaccurate.

    • Hello, Em! Thank you so much for your comment. We’ll take it into consideration and update the article as soon as possible.

  • We have new neighbors and the husband has taken a liking to our 5yr old granddaughter. If he hasn’t seen her for awhile, he will come over and ask for her, he calls her on the phone, calls her sweetheart, tells her he misses her and when his wife and hum took her camping,our granddaughter slept with him. I see big red signs and her Councilor says it sounds too familiar keep him away. Our daughter days he is grooming her. She also has had nightmares this last week, like she did when she came to live with. What do I do?

    • Hello, Erin! This is definitely not okay and you should limit their contact as much as possible. You can imply in a conversation with him that you know what he’s doing and it’s going to have consequences (if you have a husband or a male friend, it’s better they do this). Often, they would back off if they know the parents are onto them. If he doesn’t stop, please call responsible local services. Better be safe.

  • Hi! I know this article is a bit old, but you say that “rarely” are kids sexually abused by family members. I’m friends with many other sexual abuse survivors, and almost all of us were molested by a father, mother, or older sibling instead of a non-relative. Often the abuse would begin with incest, but the children are then abused by other adults because we were taught that adults being sexual with us is normal. It’s not rare at all for a family member to molest a child, some studies show that over a third of sexual abuse is from a member of the child’s family. When I was coming to terms with my abuse I was told that incest is rare which made me feel isolated and doubt myself. Please update the language to say that incest is not an uncommon kind of abuse. There’s more of us incest survivors than you would ever want to think

    • Hello, Helle! Yes, you are right, our info is a bit outdated. We are working on updating the post. Thank you for your input!

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