These Signs will Help You Spot Child Sexual Abuse and Stop It Immediately.
Child sexual abuse has become an epidemic in America and beyond. Children face sexual abuse from trusted religious leaders, community leaders, family members, teachers, and more. Unfortunately, according to RAINN, 93% of victims of sexual abuse know their abusers.
Abusers often convince their victims that no one will believe them, or they are guilty of something. Therefore, victims of child abuse, especially child sexual abuse, often keep the abuse a secret.
As parents, teachers, and trusted adults within the community, we must learn to spot child sexual abuse and child abuse victims. When speaking with or dealing with children, look for these signs to determine if there is an issue that requires immediate attention.
What Is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse occurs when a child experiences sexual advances or contact from an adult or another minor. Child sexual abuse may occur in any of the following ways:
- Asking a child to strip in front of you
- Masturbating in front of a child
- Touching a child’s genitals or private areas
- Inappropriately touching a child.
- Watching, looking at, or possessing child pornography
- Watching pornography with a child
- Penetrating a child with a finger, penis, or object.
- Forcing a child to touch himself in front of you or on camera
- Taking naked photos or videos of a child
The following points will help you take notice of child sexual abuse.
1. Does the Child Complain That He Doesn’t Want to Visit Someone?
Child sexual abuse victims may not tell someone about the abuse. Instead, they may refuse to visit certain people. They may cry every time they have to see a relative, go to a community event, or even attend religious services.
If a child typically enjoys these activities, trying to avoid them is a huge red flag. It may indicate child sexual abuse. It may also indicate other forms of child abuse. Be aware, however, your child may never admit the reason relates to abuse.
2. Does an Adult Provide Your Child and You with Inappropriate Gifts and Affection?
Child sexual abusers will not only work to gain a child’s trust. He will also work to gain the parent’s trust. This behavior is known as grooming.
A sexual abuser will groom a child and family to accept the behavior as normal. They will work to convince everyone involved to trust him and allow him time alone with the child.
Grooming is another way an abuser can convince a child that reporting sexual abuse will be ignored. The abuser convinces a child that everyone trusts him and knows he would never do anything wrong to hurt a child. He would use phrases like, “Do you think your Mommy and Daddy would let me around you if they thought I would hurt you.”
The child may even begin to repeat things said by the abuser because he thinks the abuser wants what is best. Pay attention to these comments and ideas. They may be red flags that your child is experiencing grooming or sexual abuse.
3. Is Your Child Beginning to Act Out in School and Home?
Victims of child sexual abuse may begin to act out in places where they were well-behaved. They may exhibit aggression, anger, and inappropriate sexual behaviors. These behaviors may relate to many issues. If your child exhibits these behaviors, they are exhibiting red flag behaviors.
When you see these behaviors, it is best to discuss them with your child first. Ask your child why she is acting out. Talk to your pediatrician and other professionals to get an idea of why your child is acting out.
4. Has Your Child’s Behavior Changed?
Victims of child sexual abuse will exhibit strange behaviors. They may start to withdraw from others. They may begin sleeping in your room or stop sleeping altogether. Maybe your child will start wetting the bed at night.
These changes are significant behavior changes. Significant behavior changes may indicate sexual abuse. You must address these changes to help prevent further abuse or issues.
5. Is Your Child in Pain?
Sometimes child sexual abuse results in pain for a child. Your child may experience burning or itching in their genital areas. They may be sore and bruises around their genitals and thighs.
This pain is often associated with child sexual abuse. There are very few reasons a child should experience such pain. Furthermore, the pain may indicate a sexually transmitted disease (STD). If pain, discharge, or blood is present near a child’s genitals or in their underwear, you must seek medical attention.
Be prepared. If you do not report the issue to the authorities, the medical provider will. If you are a teacher or other trusted adult that notices such an issue, you must report the issue to the authorities before the child can seek medical attention.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Child Sexual Abuse?
If you suspect a child is the victim of sexual abuse, contact the authorities. You can easily call the local police or child abuse hotline to report abuse. You may report the abuse anonymously. However, you must provide detail regarding the child and the suspected abuse information.
Some individuals are mandatory reporters. These people include teachers, medical care providers, and mental healthcare providers. These individuals must report suspected abuse, no matter what.
They must report it, even if they think there is a chance the changes are related to other issues and not child sexual abuse. If there is an inkling of any possibility of abuse, these mandatory reporters must call the authorities.
How Can a Child Victim of Sexual Abuse Receive Justice?
Victims of child sexual abuse often file criminal charges against their abusers. As a result, they are witnesses to criminal actions. Knowing their abusers are thrown in jail can be a great justice. However, they also must relieve the details of the horrific experience. Therefore, they must experience the raw trauma all over again in front of a judge.
Your child and you, as the parent, can also file a civil lawsuit. The law allows child sexual abuse victims to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser even as adults. Most laws offer adults the right to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers many years after their 18th birthday.
A civil lawsuit allows the victim to become a plaintiff in the process. Victims receive compensation as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Furthermore, even if the criminal charges do not stick or the victim misses the opportunity to file a criminal lawsuit, he can still file a civil lawsuit against the abuser.
If you are the victim of child sexual abuse, the dedicated child sexual abuse lawyers and former sex-crimes prosecutors at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Call 800.807.2209 for your free consultation.