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May 062014

As parents, it is up to us to keep our children out of harm’s way, and when it comes to something as terrible and difficult to detect as child molestation or child sex abuse, the only things we can do include having an open discussion with our children and keeping a watchful eye. That’s why it is important to know the signs and symptoms of child sex abuse. Also, it is crucial that parents have periodic conversations with their children about sexual abuse. One time is not enough. Children of all ages need to be reminded of appropriate contact with adults and other children.

Related: What it Takes to Get Justice Against a Sex Abuser or Molester

According to the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit that helps victims of child sex abuse, 1 out of 7 victims of sexual abuse is under age 6. Here are some additional, startling statistics.

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18.
  • 90% of child sex abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way.
  • 68% of child sex abuse victims are abused by family members.
  • 67% of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement are children under the age of 18; half are under 12.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.

The unfortunate reality is that child molestation can occur anywhere. Relatives, neighbors, teachers, babysitters, priests/clergy, doctors, and even other children can commit sexual abuse. We must be vigilant to stop the cycle of abuse.

Related: Child Sex Abuse Victims & Changes in Brain Structure Caused by Abuse

Common Signs of Child Sex Abuse

You may see behavioral or physical signs that your child has been sexually abused.  However, it is important to remember that a child may show few or no signs that they have experienced abuse.

Behavioral Signs

Physical Signs

Uses sexually inappropriate language Evidence of tenderness, pain or injury in the private parts or the mouth
Knows more about sex than is normal for their age Sexually transmitted disease
Excessive masturbation or excessively touches genitals Pregnancy
Sudden changes in normal behavior (eating, sleeping, etc.)
Bed wetting/nightmares
Emotional changes (depressed, anxious, suicidal)
Drug/alcohol use
Problems at school
Sexually abuses others
Talks about others being sexually abused

Parents should be on alert for any one of the above symptoms or a combination of symptoms. Each child is unique and responds to sexual abuse differently. The key is regular communication with your child about sexual abuse.

If you suspect sexual abuse, talk to your doctor immediately and discuss the issue with others close to your child, such as day care employees, babysitters, etc. See if they have noticed similar behaviors. If your suspicions are confirmed, you should file a police report.

Sexual predators who target children are often emboldened by the cycle of silence and go on to commit future acts of abuse which often become increasingly violent over time. That’s why it is important to seek justice in the criminal and civil courts. Doing so can prevent future acts of abuse.

Related: Damage Claims in Civil Sex Abuse Cases

Representation by a Former Sex Crimes Unit Prosecutor

If your child was sexually abused, please call us to discuss pursuing a criminal and civil case. Firm founder, Brian Kent, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of sex abuse in the civil courts. 800.220.7600

DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.