Sexual Abuse: How to know if your child is a victim of this?
If your child starts with a withdrawn and shy demeanor that is not the usual way, this may be a sign that he is being sexually assaulted. Look for signs that may indicate that he is being abused, and talk to him about whether this is the case. Acting quickly will help your child better if he or she is sexually abused.
Identify the signs of sexual abuse
See if your child appears unusually discreet
If your child is often open and exuberant, but suddenly becomes shy or low-key, this may be a sign that something is wrong. In many cases, children feel ashamed, embarrassed, or confused about what is happening to them and since they do not know how to express what they are feeling, they keep it to themselves. Be careful if your child seems quieter than usual .
Identify signs of regressing into childish behavior
If your child suddenly starts behaving like a person shorter than their age, get on the alert. If you can rule out other factors that might be causing this change, such as bullying or other stress, then you might be thinking about sexual assault. Here are some examples of attitudes to check  :
- bedwetting (after an age at which this should no longer happen)
- temper tantrums and aggressive behavior for no reason
- the fact that the child clings to you and cries when you have to leave him after dropping him off at school or nursery.
Focus on nightmarish issues and other issues related to sleep at night
Most children have nightmares or experience insomnia from time to time, so it should not be a cause for concern that a child has a few nights of sleeplessness. However, if your child has nightmares regularly, cries when you leave them alone in their bedroom at night, and cannot sleep when they are in bed, this could be alarming.
Watch him see if he’s exhibiting inappropriate behavior while he’s having fun
Sometimes children who are sexually harassed will pour out what they feel on their dolls or other children. It could be that you see your child displaying sexual behavior and you have no idea where he learned this. Watch the way your child plays with their toys or with other children and if you notice anything unusual, don’t overlook it.
- For example, a child who is sexually harassed may inappropriately touch a doll or toy or display this behavior towards another child.
- A child may also use words or phrases of a sexual nature that you have never taught them.
- It is normal for small children to touch their private parts because naturally they are curious about their body and would like to explore it. However, if you have the impression that they are exhibiting adult behaviors while doing so (for example, masturbating, children usually do not touch their private parts for pleasure), this must be able to alarm you.
Notice the personality changes
If your child is often cheerful and talkative and becomes shy and reserved, this could be a sign that he is being abused in some way. If this is a naturally shy child, they might start to act strangely and display unusual behaviors. Watch out for mood swings that don’t seem to be from a logical cause.
Observe your child’s reaction to people and when they are in different places
Does he or she display feelings of fear or feel uncomfortable around certain people or when in certain places? If your child runs and hides, become silent, or starts to cry around certain people, it could be alarming.
- Some children are naturally shy, but you need to be able to tell the difference between shyness and normal fear in your child around someone.
- See if your child displays a particular loathing for a specific place, such as school, piano lessons, a parent’s house, etc.
Check the physical signs if you think your child is sexually assaulted
Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare, as perpetrators of sexual harassment generally do not like to leave a trace. However, it is important to know the physical signs of abuse so that you can recognize them as soon as you see them. Here are the physical signs that can show that a child is being sexually abused  :
- pain, discoloration, bleeding, or discharge in the mouth, genitals, or anus;
- pain while urinating and during bowel movements;
- marks in the area of the genitals.
Identify the difference between normal sexual behavior and abnormal sexual behavior
- For example, normal sexual behavior in children 0 to 5 years old can be described as follows  :
- the use of childish language to talk about private parts of the body;
- showing curiosity about how children are born;
- touching or rubbing their genitals;
- an obvious curiosity about their genitalia.
Talk to your child
Help your child feel secure while you have a chat
The topic of child abuse is very difficult for children to tackle as well as adults, so it is important to do it in a relaxing environment. Wait until you and your child have nothing to do and find a comfortable place, like the kitchen or the family den. Let her know you want to ask him some questions, and that, whatever his answer, there will be no problem .
- Do not bring up the topic of sexual abuse in front of anyone you suspect of child abuse, including direct family members.
- It is important to be impartial and reassuring throughout the discussion. Don’t be contemptuous or try to shed some light on certain things or get angry, even if you are angry about the situation and not at your child.
Ask if someone is touching him in an inappropriate way
When your child feels comfortable, bring up the topic in a gentle, yet direct manner. Ask him if anyone inappropriately touched him. Use terms you and your child usually use to describe parts of the body that are supposed to be intimate.
- If your child says yes, encourage them to tell you more. Keep asking questions without passing judgment on their answers.
- Note that sometimes sexual abuse does not leave a bad impression on the child. Using phrases like, “Did someone hurt you?” Or “Did someone touch you in a bad way?” Your child may not understand. Be more specific.
Ask him questions about the unusual attitudes he is showing
For example, you might say that you have noticed that he seems to be afraid when you go to daycare with him or when a certain person comes to visit you. If your child has been discreet, shy, or aggressive, ask him why. Point out specific attitudes that you would have noticed and ask him to tell you what made them happen in him.
Talk to your child about the concept of secrecy
Sometimes the abuser will force the child to promise that he will keep the secret or maybe even threaten him in case he does not keep the secret. If your child tells you that they have been asked to keep a secret, tell them that adults should not ask children to keep a secret. Explain to your child that sometimes it is okay to tell a secret and that it is safe to do so.
Tell your child that he can confide in you
Above all, it’s important to help your child feel safe and free from judgment when talking with you. Tell your child that, whatever the situation, you want to help and protect him from harm. If you have a trusting relationship with your child, they are more likely to come to you in case they are abused.
Protect your child
Know what sexual harassment or abuse is
Sexual abuse or harassment of a child can take many forms and it is important to know how to recognize each of these forms. Not all forms of sexual harassment are physical, so even if your child is not physically sexually assaulted, they may still be the victim of harassment. Here are some examples of possible forms of harassment.
- touching the genitals of a child for sexual pleasure;
- forcing a child to touch the genitals of another person (an adult or another child);
- showing pornography to a child;
- taking inappropriate images of a child;
- showing a child the genitals of an adult or encouraging him to watch people perform sexual acts.
Teach your child that parts of the body are private
From a very young age, teach your child that certain parts of the body should never be touched by anyone other than the child. Many parents define these parts as anything that needs to be covered by a swimsuit. Teach your child that if someone tries to touch them or their private parts, they should refuse and report it to you as soon as possible.
Create a relationship of trust with your child
Children are more likely to confide in their parents when they are not afraid of getting into trouble. They must also feel that their parents will believe what they say. Start fostering a positive, trusting relationship with your child so they know that whatever the situation, you are there to support them.
Get into the habit of chatting every day
An important way to create open communication with your child would be to have regular conversations with him. Maybe your schedule is hectic and you are still at work, but still find time each day to chat with your child about their life. Keep up to date with your child’s activities, find out who they spend their time with often, and how they feel every day. That way, if something unusual happened, you would know it immediately.
Be involved in your child’s school education and be present at the activities in which he participates
Sexual predators tend to target children who are not sufficiently controlled by their parents. Be present at your child’s play activities, while he does his exercises, his research, and the excursions organized by the school in which he participates. If you are planning on leaving your child in the care of someone else, first make sure you know and trust that person, whether they are an extended family member or from a teacher, trainer, or family friends.
Act on whatever information your child gives you
If your child tells you that they are being sexually assaulted, don’t look down on the information, even if the news is completely shocking. Remember that most sexual predators are people the child knows and trusts. Only 10% are people the child does not know. If you have any reason to believe someone is abusing your child, here’s what to do.
- Move your child away from the person.
- Call emergency services and report the abuser to local authorities. Call the toll-free number reserved for cases of child sexual harassment (United States Of America): 312–663–3520 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Have your child followed by a doctor. It is important to take your child to a doctor to see if he has been physically injured.
- Take your child to a counseling center. The physical trauma engendered by the sexual abuse suffered by the child generally leads to psychological trauma.
Warnings from kidsrush.com
If your suspicion is confirmed that your child is being abused, act immediately and investigate your child’s friends, teachers, parents’ friends, and so on and report the situation to the police.
Originally published at https://kidsrush.com on September 7, 2020.