Symptoms of Sexual Abuse in Children and What to Do About Them
Symptoms of sexual abuse in children and understanding what to look for. Even though you may not work in a school, or some other facility where children are often encountered, it is still very important to know the main symptoms of sexual abuse in children. This is especially important if you have children of your own that may wind up unwitting victims of children who are currently being abused. At the very least, if you are aware of these symptoms, and how to report them, you can help end the suffering of one child. Perhaps prevent damage to your own.
Children that are being sexually abused will often exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Self mutilation, as well as aggressiveness towards animals, other people, or toys.
- Distress or anger upon going to certain locations.
- Sexual expressions or sexually oriented play that are abnormal for the child’s age.
- Unusual interest in sexuality and related topics based on child’s age.
- Lack of interest in school, and lower grades.
- Withdrawal from play or other previously enjoyed activities.
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Distress at being around, or left alone with specific people.
- Frequent nightmares or difficulty sleeping.
- Loss of appetite.
- Frequent gagging.
- Prolonged, or recurring bedwetting.
- Pain during eliminating waste.
- Unusual marks or injuries in the private areas.
Symptoms of Sexual Abuse in Children
Protecting Your Own Children From Sexual Abuse
No matter how much you may want to trust domestic partners, your spouse, school workers, or members of the clergy, it is crucial to realize that children can become victims of sexual abuse right under your nose. If your child comes home upset from school, seems unusually withdrawn after staying over at a friend’s house, or clothing is torn, take your child to the hospital. If other symptoms appear, you should not hesitate to obtain counseling for your child. During this process, name other children that express similar behaviors. Inform the adults involved.
Reporting Suspected Sexual Abuse in Children
If you have physical control of the child, you should take him/her to a hospital emergency room, or to a police station. This is especially important if there are physical indicators of abuse, or signs of new injury. You should let medical staff oversee removal of clothing, as well as preservation of evidence. As a general rule of thumb, you are better off reporting all signs of suspected abuse, rather than simply let it go on.
Report the situation to the police when you notice behavioral and psychological signs of abuse. Depending on your state, there are also anonymous tip intake centers available by phone and online. You can also call 1-800-4-A-CHILD to reach the Child help National Child Abuse Helpline. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also has a number of resources that may be of some help to you.
Thousands of children are victims of rape, molestation, or filmed for pornographic purposes on a daily basis. Being aware of the symptoms may enable you to help a child, as well as protect your own from hidden predators. While you cannot save every child, why not take steps to make sure that you can help at least one that may be suffering from sexual abuse today?
Get the help you need today. At High Expectations Counseling we specialize in play therapy for children. This allows out therapist to observe your child without directly asking or confronting them. We are proud to have a wonderful child therapist on our team. Contact Carl Tieney today at 407-967-1327.