Wednesday, May 19, 1999 Published at 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Paedophile warning for parents
The booklet aims to alert parents about child abuse
A booklet that aims to educate parents about paedophiles is launched in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The 16-page publication aims to dispel the myth that paedophiles are strangers in trenchcoats, lying in wait for children.
It says that they are highly manipulative people who spend a lot of time and energy to win the affections of the children they aim to abuse.
The booklet is the brainchild of Dan Norris, MP for Wansdyke, in south west England.
He got the idea after parents in his constituency staged protests outside a police station when they heard that a convicted paedophile was being held there.
The foreword of the leaflet, published by charities Kidscape, Childline and the Lucy Faithful Foundation, is written by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mr Norris said: "The government is taking important steps to make children safer.
"New laws mean children have never been better protected from convicted sex offenders.
"But parents, with the help of this booklet, can take positive action to protect their children from those abusers who are unknown to the authorities."
The booklet lists the warning signs that a child is being abused, including persistent nightmares, becoming withdrawn or acting in an inappropriately sexual way with toys and other objects.
It also gives advice about letting children out on their own.
The guide says, for example, that children should be encouraged to knock on someone's door or go into a shop if they fear they are being followed, act on gut instincts and not talk to strangers.
However, the guide points out that most paedophiles are unlikely to be complete strangers.
A spokeswoman for Kidscape said: "People are very scared about a stranger abducting their child, but this is very unlikely. It is more likely to be someone who has wangled their way into the family and spent a great deal of time and energy preening children.
The guide is initially being distributed to 1.5m parents in the Wansdyke area.
It will be available in doctors' surgeries, playgroups, schools and other organisations.
But the charities behind it hope they can secure financial backing so that it can eventually be distributed to parents nationwide.