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Child Sexual Abuse: What can we be doing?

When you see the headlines about a child being sexually abused by an adult you often feel instant anger. Often times you may ask yourself, “How could someone do that to a child?” The statistics are very alarming showing that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse. Although we do not see headlines in the paper daily, it is happening daily to a children. According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. A lot of times when discussing child sexual abuse, we as a society teach that we should be scared of strangers often referred to as “stranger danger”. When in reality, it is often the person you least expect.

It is important that as a community we are educated on this topic and that parents are having important conversations with their children. 

  • We should refrain from teaching what a good touch vs. a bad touch is, because that can confuse a child. You can tell them that the area that a swim suit covers is a private area and that no one should touch there.
  •  We should not force a child to kiss people (i.e. Go give your uncle a kiss and they refuse), it is important that children set their own personal boundaries.
  • We should not teach our children to keep secrets. Perpetrators will often tell children that this is a secret and not to tell anyone.

Some signs of child sexual abuse may be:

  • Waking up during the night with night sweat or nightmares
  • Bed wetting
  • Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems
  • Withdrawing from activities they enjoyed doing
  • Complaining of pain while urinating
  • Disengaging with people around them
  • Receiving gifts or candy for no apparent reason

Sexual Predator Warning Signs:

  • Need for power and control
  • Often times family members, family friends and neighbors
  • Overly self-indulgent
  • Great helper-always there to lend a helping hand
  •  Often insinuating themselves into that child’s life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies
  • Offering gifts
  • Requesting alone time with a child