Sexual abuse should never have to happen to any child. However, it is reported that about 80,000 children are sexually abused every year. There should be zero tolerance of any abuse of any kind.
As a parent, you try to protect your child and keep him away from danger. You teach him the dangers of talking to strangers, how not to get into a car with someone he doesn’t know and how to never take candy from people whom he is unfamiliar with. It is even harder now with children’s access to the Internet and having their own cellphones to control who they talk to.
There are warning signs to look out for to help identify children who have been sexually abused.
- Watch out for physical signs. Depending on the age, check your child’s genitalia, especially if she complains that it hurts. Look for any redness, soreness, bleeding, bruising and swelling. Observe if she has a difficult time walking. If you see any of these physical signs, bring the child to the pediatrician right away.
- Be sensitive for any behavioral changes. You know your child’s disposition. If you suddenly notice any changes such as temper tantrums, moodiness, sullenness, or withdrawal, find out what is wrong. He may start being secretive, fearful or even depressed. If he exhibits sudden fear when going to a specific place or when visiting someone you know, take heed. Children are oftentimes sexually abused by someone they already know and trust, such as a relative, caregiver or parent’s boyfriend. If a child displays sudden dislike or fear even at the mention of the name, find out what’s wrong.
- If your child starts to injure himself or display signs of low self esteem, be warned.
- Keep an eye out for urinary tract infections or other bladder infections. Do not self medicate. It is better your take your child to the pediatrician so he can be assessed. Doctors will be able to check for other signs that you may not be aware of.
- If your child suddenly wets his bed, or has bladder control problem, there may be a problem. Another sign is the inability to sleep or having nightmares.
- If you notice your child starts acting in a sexually provocative or sexually aggressive manner, take heed. Observe how he plays with other children, especially pretend play. If he starts fondling his playmate’s genitalia, or starts teaching his playmates how to do sexual things, casually interrupt their play and separate the children. Tweens and teens may even engage in sexually promiscuous activity with their peers.
- If your child tells you that someone touched him in a weird way or made him feel funny things, LISTEN! Never downplay what your child tells you because children will not lie about these things.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that as long as your child is getting good grades and is keeping away from trouble at school, he is fine. Although some abused children may display poor academic performance and disciplinary behavior at school, some abuse victims are able to function in school and hide their secret.
If you suspect the worst has happened to your child, get him to a pediatrician right away and contact law enforcement officials. The abuse must stop immediately and get your child the help he needs right away.