How to Protect Your Teenagers

Do you think Australia is a safe place to live? With more than double the global rate of sexual assaults, Australia is actually not so safe, especially for teenage girls.

A recent investigation found that, compared to the global rate of sexual assault of women, which is 7.2%, 16.4 % of Australian women have been sexually assaulted by a non-partner, which includes friends, strangers and members of their family. And those at most risk are girls aged 10-14.

Following on from our last article, How to Protect Your Children from Sexual Predators, we will now discuss the dangers teenagers face, and how a private detective can help keep your teen safe.

Before calling in a detective, there are several steps you can take to ensure your teenager’s safety. Some of these are best done in childhood, and include encouraging your children from a young age not to keep secrets from you, and letting them know that you trust them. Sometimes, this will carry into puberty, and hormones will not turn your child into a rebellious teenager.

If this is your case, then you probably don’t have to worry.

However, if you’re considering hiring a private detective, then that probably isn’t the kind of teenager you have got. Yours is the kind who keeps secrets, and who treats you like the evil headmaster – it’s their mission to get away with as much as possible, without you knowing. It’s the sad truth – hormones make everyone go crazy at this stage in our lives. If you have memories of yourself as a teenager and your teenage friends, you know this is the truth. Detective investigators come from all backgrounds, and sure, maybe one or two of us were straight-A highschool students, but most of us were normal, frustrating, secret-keeping, trouble-finding teenagers.

Of all the kinds of trouble a teenager can find, the worst is in fact not something they go looking for, like drugs and alcohol. This danger comes from the sexual predators, paedophiles and sex offenders who are out there, eager to advantage of teenagers. These are the hardest kind of danger to protect your kids from, because it is difficult to predict. When they get in with the wrong crowd, a savvy parent could predict that their kids might be experimenting with illegal substances. While this is not ideal, we have all been teenagers and we know it happens. Teenagers may also be experimenting with their sexuality, with other kids their age. Again, this might not seem ideal to a parent, but it is a natural part of growing up.

What is not natural is when a teenager is sexually assaulted by an adult or by anyone to whom they don’t give their consent.

While it’s no surprise to detectives, most people don’t realise just how regularly sexual assault happens. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have been sexually assaulted since they were 15.

Even more alarmingly:

  • 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they turn 16.

Investigators know, and the statistics confirm, that the greatest proportion of people sexually assaulted are girls aged between 10 and 14. The next largest category are teenage girls and young women aged 15-24.

Yes – the younger the person, girls especially, the more chance they will be sexually abused.

One thing private detectives and investigators also know is that strangers are not actually the greatest risk. Time and again our detectives are called to investigate the indecent behaviour of a family member, an in-law or an ex-boyfriend of someone who our client suspects has been assaulted. The victims are not the ones most likely to call for help – it is those around them who have to take action. Most importantly, parents and other family members are best equipped to notice the signs of sexual assault, and think to consult a detective.

If you notice negative behavioural change shortly after your child or family member has started a new relationship, then it’s time to call a private investigator. We can let you know from the start whether your teenager has found their way into a dangerous relationship. The sooner you know, the better for all. Ideally, we can stop the assault before it happens, and provide evidence to police about an individual who is likely to commit assault.

More specifically, if you have a teenager daughter, you should be looking most closely at her boyfriend. Especially if they have ANY history of violence. We rarely have to say this to fathers, but we want to stress that there are solid reasons to be suspicious of your teenage daughter’s boyfriend.

Why? Well, detectives see it happen, and researchers recorded it in the report above: partner violence makes up the majority of assault on Sydney/Melbourne women aged 15-44.

Sorry guys – we are not attacking you, and it’s not personal. But when it comes to who to suspect, both parents and detective investigators cannot ignore the fact that 93% of sexual offenders are male.

While some fathers try to conduct surveillance themselves, it is mostly the mothers and the sensible fathers among our clients who give us a call and have one of our detectives investigate their teenager daughter’s new boyfriend. As our detectives have to remind people – it is safest to be suspicious.

Stranger Danger – It’s True for Teens

While most sexual assault happens within relationships, Stranger Danger is a cliché for a reason – because sexual and violent assault does happen by strangers. And your teenagers are at the greatest risk of this when they are living their normal lives, going to or from an activity, or seeing friends.

Teenagers are especially at risk because they typically are less cautious, yet will insist on being allowed extra freedom. They want their parents to trust them to walk home alone, and to be out at night. And this is when they are most open to sexual assault by strangers. For teenage girls in particular, the sexual assault and rape statistics are appalling.

A 2012 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 17% of women have been sexually assaulted in some way since age 15, while 4% of men had been sexually assaulted from the same age.

We could try to show all teenagers these statistics – have an investigator sit them all down and scare them a little – but we know they are far more likely to conclude “It won’t happen to me” than they are to think “I’d better listen to that detective, he seems like a good guy.”

The best way for teens to stay safe is to stay together. But how do you make your independent teenager agree to stay in a group? A great way to do this, when they insist that they can look after themselves, is to bargain. Whoever said parents shouldn’t bargain with their children never met a teenager.

Find their currency, whatever it takes to make them promise to stay in groups whenever they are outside the home (and better yet, think like a detective investigator and ensure they agree to provide evidence). Even if you let them stay out later than normal, having them lose some sleep on a school night is a good pay-off if it means they are safe.

Remember, behaviour change is the best indicator that something is wrong in your teenager’s life. If they are keeping secrets, going to lengths to make sure you don’t know where they’ve been and who they’ve been spending time with, then it’s worth looking into. Rather than grabbing your digital camera and trailing them in your car, call in a professional detective. We have several advantages that you as a parent or loved one don’t have, such as a face and a numberplate your child won’t recognise! We also have the networks and resources to discover the history of any individual who you think could present a danger to your child.

Legally, a normal parent, no matter how good your intentions are, cannot follow and monitor the actions of another person, without risking being charged with stalking. However, licensed detectives can offer surveillance of an individual, as long as you have some just cause to suspect that they may be dangerous. We are more than happy to discuss your situation, and to let you know if your worries are cause for investigation.

Any suspicious behaviour you have noticed can be a sufficient reason to investigate further – and the bottom line is that knowing the truth about your teenager daughter’s boyfriend is always better than not knowing.