What Every Parent Should Know
What You Can Do to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse
1. Teach your children about what inappropriate sexual behavior is and how and when to say "no" if someone tries to touch sexual parts of their bodies or in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
2. Keep lines of communication open. Help your children understand that they can always speak openly to you and that they will be believed.
3. Recognize that most child victims are molested by a family member or someone known to the child. Observe your children when they interact with others to see if they are hesitant or particularly uncomfortable around a certain adult.
4. When selecting a pre-school or care center, investigate the center's reputation, find out as much as you can about the teachers and caregivers, and hiring policies.
5. Invite experts to give presentations about sexual abuse to groups that you are involved with.
6. Encourage your local school board to put programs in place that will educate both teachers and students about the problem.
Clues that Indicate a Child is a Victim of Sexual Abuse.
1. Has torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.
2. Experiences pain or itching in the genital area.
3. Has bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vagina, or anal regions.
4. Has swollen or red cervix, vulva.
5. Has semen around mouth, genitalia, or on clothing.
6. Is pregnant.
It is important to note that these behaviors are clues that indicate that sexual abuse may have occurred and do not mean that sexual abuse has definitely occurred.
1. Appears withdrawn or engages in fantasy or infantile behavior.
2. Has poor peer relationships.
3. Is unwilling to participate in physical activities.
4. Recurrent nightmares or disturbed sleep patterns and fear of dark.
5. Unusual interest or knowledge of sexual matters, expressing affection in ways inappropriate for a child of that age.
6. Fear of a person or an intense dislike at being left somewhere or with someone.
7. Loss of appetite, aggressive or disruptive behavior, withdrawal, running away or delinquent behavior, failing in school Even if you are unsure of your suspicions, it is your legal and moral obligation to immediately report child abuse concerns to Child Protective Services. All reports are confidential. Remember that you may be the only person who is in a position to help the child. CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE # 1(800)SOS CHILD or 1(800)767-2443.
What to do if a Child Tells You about Sexual Abuse.
1. Talk to the child in private and allow the child to tell you what happened in his or her own words, without pressing for details. Detailed questioning is best handled by persons trained to do this.
2. Listen to the child and accept what the child is telling you even if it is difficult for you to believe the identity of the alleged abuser, or that sexual abuse took place.
3. Comfort the child by saying that is good that you were told.
4. Remain calm and don't overreact. You may feel angry but make it clear that your anger is not directed toward the child. Tell the child that what happened is not his or her fault. Let the child know that the alleged abuser has done something wrong and needs help.
5. Reassure the child. Let the child know that you will do something to help but don't make promises you cannot keep.
6. Do not take the law into your own hands, even if you know the alleged offender. This could jeopardize any investigation or court case that may arise.
7. Call for assistance immediately. The police and Child Protective Services are prepared to help at any time day or night. They have staff members who are specially trained to deal with complaints of child abuse. Police - 911 or CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE 1(800)330-1822.