An electronic publication of Survivors And Victims Empowered
|Volume 2, Issue 5|
February 5, 2009
The best way to deal with child sexual abuse is still prevention. Most predators know their victims. If your child is ever reluctant to spend time with a particular adult, especially one who you believe has always been "so nice" to them, trust his or her instincts. Pay particular attention if an older child seems protective of a younger sibling around a particular person.
Warning signs/symptoms of sexual abuse
Parents, teachers, and guardians may find it difficult to distinguish between normal and healthy childhood sexual experimentation and sexual deviance resulting from exposure to pornography. The following guidelines, courtesy of Donna Rice Hughes, established by mental health and law enforcement officials, are useful in assessing sexual disturbance among children.
- Explicit and sometimes bizarre sexual knowledge
- Precocious sexually related experimentation and speech
- Toilet training relapses
- Smearing of feces and /or urine
- Gagging and unexplained vomiting
- Speech problems
- Regressive Behavior
- Withdrawal from normal human contact
- Stomach and head pains
- Suicidal depression
- Self destructive tendencies
- Excessive fear of selected individuals and/or locations
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained bruises or injuries in genital areas
- Blood spotting or unexplained substances in underwear
- Abrupt or radical behavioral or attitude changes
- Lack of self-esteem or self-worth
- Ulcers, colitis, anorexia or other stress related disorders
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Frequent nightmares
- Inability to sleep
- Excessive passivity
- Vaginal or urinary tract infections
- Infections of the mouth, gums and throat
- Venereal disease
- Unexplained gifts from adults
- Presence of extra money
- Presence of pornography
Children who have been harmed by viewing pornography may be excessively curious about or overly preoccupied with sexuality. Some children expose their genitals to others or engage in a sudden, unusually high level of masturbation.
Age-Inappropriate Sexualized Behavior
Some children may display sexual knowledge and behavior beyond that which is appropriate for their age. According to the American Psychiatric Press, this is one of the few reliable and distinguishing characteristics that identify sexually abused children. Very young children may enact adult sexual scenarios and behaviors in their play with other children or with their dolls and stuffed animals.
Having learned the message that sexual overtures are acceptable ways to get attention and rewards, children may enter into unhealthy relationships, particularly with older, age-inappropriate partners. Additionally, believing the myth generated by pornography that their bodies are for the use of others, young girls may become promiscuous. Children preoccupied with sex may attempt to engage younger children in sexual behavior because younger and smaller children are easier to manipulate and often more cooperative.
Aggressive attempts to undress, sexually touch, or attempt intercourse with others are not uncommon among sexually preoccupied children. When a tendency toward secretive play combines with intense sexual preoccupation, a child may be vulnerable to repeating his or her abuse with other children in ways that can create chaos and further victimization. Such a child requires extensive parental supervision and therapeutic help.
Reminder of the week: If you suspect that your child may have been the victim of child sexual abuse, try to remain calm, but seek professional help immediately. Call the Child Help National Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 and visit childhelp.org and Mothers Against Sexual Abuse.
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