Is child sexual abuse really a huge issue?
YES. As many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused before they turn 17, according to most reliable studies of child sexual abuse in the United States. Even worse, the actual figure may be even higher – remember, many cases of child sexual abuse go unreported.
If you really want to get an idea of how prominent child sexual abuse really is, consider this fact: one in five adults report that they were sexually abused as children; in other words, there are potentially more than 45 million adults living in the United States right now who were child sexual abuse victims.
Are particular children at risk of sexual abuse?
Sex offenders tend to target children who have problems at home, suffer emotional or developmental challenges, or are otherwise vulnerable. However, this doesn’t mean children with stable home lives, strong support systems, and healthy emotional/mental development are immune from sexual abuse. On the contrary, child sexual abuse is so common to the point where ALL children are vulnerable, no matter their race, class, or religious background.
What are signs that an adult may be using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons?
While there are no obvious red flags that implicate an adult to be a child sexual abuser, there may be cause for concern about the behavior of an adult if they:
- Actively try to spend time alone with a child.
- Don’t allow a child sufficient privacy or independence.
- Engage in unwanted physical affection, such as kissing, hugging or wrestling.
- Seem to spend most of their time with children and have little interest in spending time with people their own age.
- Frequently walk in on children in the bathroom.
- Take inappropriate interest in a child’s sexual development.
- Shower gifts and money on a child for no apparent reason.
- Make a particular child feel “special” compared with others in the group.
- Regularly offer to take children out or babysit them for free.
What prevents adults from spotting abuse?
When confronted with a disturbing possibility, people have the tendency to dismiss and deny. It’s very hard to imagine that someone you know and trust could be committing such a heinous act as child sexual abuse. After all, aren’t child sexual abusers supposed to be amoral “monsters” or “predators” that are different from the rest of us?
However, this mentality can be actively harmful by blinding us to offenders who, by all appearances, seem and act just like any other ordinary human being. In other words, when we rely on our assumptions to guide us, we fail those who are screaming silently for our help. In order to protect our children, we must trust our gut feelings and take action rather than stay in denial.
What should you do if child sexual abuse is suspected?
First off, it is important that you remain as calm and supportive as possible. Don’t interrogate your child and bombard him/her with questions. Instead, reassure the child that he/she is not to blame and ask a few gentle open-ended questions or prompts (e.g., “Who did that?” “Tell me more about what happened.” “Where did this happen?”). Consult with a children’s mental health professional, or, alternatively, a pediatrician who can help you determine if your child’s suspicions are reasonable. Also, every state has a child protection agency that will take a report and launch an investigation if warranted.
If you have any questions regarding legal action, contact the trustworthy child sexual abuse attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm. Our toll-free number is (800) 522-7274. We can provide you with a comprehensive case evaluation at no cost to you.