Knowing the warning signs of sexual abuse can help kids and teens in the long run. The American Psychological Association emphasizes that child sexual abuse can have lasting effects that “extend into adulthood”. In Florida, there are 50,239 child victims listed in the Child Maltreatment report. Studies show that children between the ages of 7 and 13 are most likely to be victims of child sexual abuse.
In Miami-Dade, a substitute teacher and volleyball coach was arrested for his lascivious acts with a 13 year-old boy. This is just one of the many cases that occur locally and nation-wide. Perpetrators of sexual abuse are usually known to the child or family members; and 30% of perpetrators are actually family members. Prevalent among 10% of high school students is dating violence, which may include date rape. This occurs when there is "forced or coerced sex in a dating relationship".
Sexual abuse includes touching and non-touching behaviors, including but not limited to fondling of the child’s private areas, forcing the child to view pornography, prostituting a child, forcing oral sex, or penetrating into the private parts with fingers.
There are ways to tell if your child has been victimized. Here are a few things to look for:
- Unusual or inappropriate sexual behavior: Look for exceptional interest or knowledge of “sexually related matters”; inappropriate affection; persistent sexual play; or “initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors”.
- Sudden mood swings: This may include “rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal”.
- Inability to sleep well: Be aware of your child’s sleeping patterns. If your child has frequent nightmares, trouble sleeping, or traumatic dreams it can be a warning sign.
- Reluctance to be alone in a place or with someone: Trust your parental instincts and listen to your child’s non-verbal and verbal communication of his or her fears.
- Uncommon behaviors: This includes eating changes (or not eating at all); behaving like a child (when older); thinking of body as repulsive or dirty; refusing “to talk about a secret shared with an adult or child”; “seems distracted or distant at odd times”; “complaining of pain while urinating”; “developing frequent unexplained health problems”; panicking with no explanations; injuring or cutting themselves; or “withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change”.
You can read more about these warning signs from the following sources where this information was compiled. See more below:
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