A Parents’ Guide to Spotting Sexual Abuse in Children

It is alarming and sad how often we see stories of child sexual abuse online, in newspapers, and on television. Seemingly, not a day goes by without another horrifying tale of an innocent child abused by an adult whom he or she has been taught to trust.

Unfortunately, many parents think this will never happen to their child – that the company their son or daughter keep, can be trusted. They do not question the intent of close friends, relatives, or someone they took great care to employ to provide care for their child… The truth is, abuse can happen to any child, anywhere, at any time.

What can parents do to spot the signs of child sexual abuse? The first step is to become educated on the topic, and learn the signs that can be an indicator of abuse.

These signs may be an indicator of a child who has experienced sexual abuse:

  • Changes in behavior: If your child develops an unreasonable fear of certain people or places, it might be indicative of abuse. More clues could be excessive crying, anxiety, withdrawal from activities, trouble in school, and nightmares.
  • Sudden health problems: A child experiencing sexual abuse might suddenly develop issues such as bed wetting, bowel problems, vomiting, chronic headaches or stomach aches. Some older children might develop eating disorders, and exhibit other types of compulsive behavior such as excessive hand washing, or even drug abuse.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Children?

Parents need to become familiar with what constitutes sexual abuse in children. The act takes many forms, and is not always overt. Many abusers use subtle tactics to intimidate their victims, and those tactics can be confusing, especially to children who have been taught to respect certain adults they are familiar with.

Here are some important steps to take, that will help prevent sexual abuse in children:

  • Recognize that there are many types of sexual abuse: Sexual abuse can take many forms. Sexual abuse can include forcing a child to view pornography, indecent exposure, sexual intercourse, prostitution, and physical force.
  • Find out if there are sex offenders in your community: You can quickly find out if there are sex offenders living in your community, by checking the National Sex Offender Public Web Site. Learn more about how to handle a sex offender in your community, by visiting Stop It Now.
  • Know who your kids are spending time with: It is unfortunate, but often the sexual abuser is someone familiar to the child. Observe your children when they spend time with close friends, relatives, and caregivers. If you notice your child showing discomfort around a certain person, find out why he or she feels that way.
  • Make sure children understand inappropriate sexual behavior: It can be an uncomfortable discussion, but it is a necessary one. Be specific when telling children about different forms of inappropriate behavior, and what to do if it happens. The earlier the conversation is held, the more likely a child will be to tell someone about any abuse he or she has experienced.

Are There Legal Options?

When child sexual abuse occurs, it is important to notify the proper authorities as soon as possible. The police should be called, and the child should be evaluated by medical professionals for physical and psychological injuries.

The next step is to obtain legal representation from a qualified sexual abuse attorney.  The lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm provide free consultations to all sexual abuse victims, and will work to help obtain financial compensation for parents and children.

For more information, call (800) 522-7274, toll-free.