Child Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse of children may be easily hidden, but there are several warning signs. For example, some sexually abused children display inappropriate sexual behaviors with other children or adults. They may exhibit behavior changes, changes in school performance, problems sleeping or changes in appetite. Children who are sexually abused may complain of headaches, stomach aches or genital pain. While some sexually abused children tell people of the abuse, many do not (even as adults).
If a child describes sexual abuse or tells you they’re being abused, do not try to investigate and determine if they are telling the truth. Leave that to the professionals. Report the abuse immediately to Child Protective Services or to law enforcement. It is important that the child be evaluated by professionals who are experienced in evaluating child sexual abuse.
Suspect child sexual abuse if:
- You witness inappropriate sexual behaviors between an adult and a child
- A child demonstrates sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge or behaviors
- Engages in sexualized play
- Imitates sexual intercourse
If a child reports sexual abuse, don't ignore it. Report suspected abuse to the authorities.