The Hidden Abuse... The Hidden Crime!
Sexual Abuse is a child becoming a sexual partner for an adult. Anyone under the age of 18 who is used by an adult for sexual gratification is being Sexually Abused!
According to the most recent National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, figures from 2005-2006 show a 38 percent drop in the number of cases of child sexual abuse reported to CPS investigations and community professionals since 1993. The number of sexually abused children decreased from 217,700 in 1993 to 135,300 in 2005-2006.
These are only the ones that are reported. The number of cases not reported is by far greater - because kids are afraid to tell anyone what's happened to them ... and legally validating the abuse is difficult at best. It's usually a best kept secret!
The long-term emotional & psychological damage of sexual abuse can be devastating to a child. The abuse must be identified and stopped immediately -- and the child must receive professional help at once.
Child sexual abuse can take place in the family -- by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative. It's almost always by someone your child knows ... friend, neighbor, childcare giver, teacher ... yet at times can be a stranger.
When sexual abuse occurs, a child can develop various distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviors. No child is ever psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual abuse. An infant or toddler will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the abuse.
The child who knows and loves the abuser becomes trapped between affection or loyalty for that person, and the sense that the sexual activities are terribly wrong.
If the child tries to break away from the sexual relationship, the abuser may threaten the child with violence death or loss of love. When sexual abuse occurs in a family, the child may fear the anger, jealousy or shame of other family members, or be afraid the family will break up if the secret is told.
Any child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, feels worthless and has an abnormal or distorted view of sex. He or she may become withdrawn, mistrust adults, and can become suicidal.
Some children who've been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others -- except on sexual terms. Some sexually abused kids will continue the pattern by becoming sexual abusers or prostitutes, or have other serious problems when they reach adulthood.
If your child displays any of the following signs, it doesn't mean that they're a victim of sexual abuse - yet sexual abuse should be considered as a possible cause:
Don't Be Afraid to Get Help!
When kids report they are or have been sexually abused, most often they're telling the truth. False accusations by children represent less than 5 percent of all reports.
Do not panic
Calmly listen to your child and ask what happened
Do not criticize your child
Let your child know that you will protect them
Do not confront the abuser
Notify the Police and Child Protective Services
Get your child medical and psychological help from those trained experts who deal with sexual abuse
Reinforce to your child how much you love them
Tips for Parents
Develop close communication with your kids. Let them know they can tell or talk to you about anything.
Make a rule that there should be no secrets kept from you. Secrets can be dangerous. Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult if they are hurt or worried. Teach your child about the parts of the body and sexuality. Abusers agree that a curious child's lack of information makes him/her easy prey.
Stress that sexual advances from adults or older children are wrong and illegal
Emphasize that children have a right to body privacy and self-ownership
Instill in all children a sense of self worth and dignity at every opportunity
Make a commitment to spend plenty of time with your children. A lonely and attention starved child makes an easy target.
Make it a priority to know your children's friends and their families
Listen to your instincts. If a situation or person makes you uncomfortable, trust your feelings
Teach your child to trust their feelings and pay attention to what they tell you
If you have questions about your child's sexual development talk to your child's doctor or teacher. They may be able to help you make sense of whatever is causing concern.
Psychologists or child psychiatrists may also be sources of help
When looking for advice or services related to questions about your child's sexuality, be sure to ask whether or not the qualified professional has any training regarding child development and sexual abuse. If not, ask for a professional.
Preventing Sexual Abuse
If a child taught what's "okay" and what's "not okay" and they are self-confident, they are less apt to fall victim to the wiles of a sexual predator and more likely to report an incident should one occur. Several steps can be taken to protect your child from sexual abuse. Educate your children about their bodies, and what constitutes sexual abuse.
Telling children that "if someone tries to touch your body and do things that make you feel funny, say NO to that person and tell me right away"
Teaching children that respect does not mean blind obedience to adults and to authority, for example, don't tell children to, "Always do everything the teacher or baby-sitter tells you to do"
Encouraging professional prevention programs in your local school system
Teach Your Child:
Tell your children that it is never OK for adults, older adolescents, or even for any kid to act sexually suggestive in front of them, and it is never OK for adults or anyone else to have sex with them.
Educate Your Children in Advance About What Abusers May Tell Them, Such as:
"This is our little secret,"
"You are special, and I only do this with very special children,"
"If you ever tell anyone, I'll have to track them down and kill them,"
"If you tell anyone, I'll have to kill myself,"
"You like this too, and you're as responsible for this as I am,"
"You'll only worry your parents needlessly if you tell them,"
"It will break your mother's heart if she knows you agreed to do this,"
"You didn't complain about this the first time we did it. . ."
Teach Your Children to Trust Their Instincts About Unusual Physical Behaviors From Adults, Older Adolescents ... and Yes - Even Other Kids.
Write a "script" and rehearse in advance, giving your children specific language to use. Role-play how they can tell you about it. The majority of child sexual abusers are individuals who are liked, loved, and trusted by your children and yourself. (Strangers account for only 10 to 30 percent of the perpetrators.) They can be very charming, and manipulative. Sexual abusers do not discriminate. They target every socioeconomic class, education level, gender, religion, and race. Be assertive with the adults and adolescents in your children's life, such as babysitters, scout leaders, the clergy, coaches, etc. Stay in touch with them. Sexual predators tend to prey on children who they think don't have strong parental figures in their lives. Be suspicious if an adult figure wants to spend frequent one-on-one time with your child, take a trip with him, or give him gifts. Keep your children involved in group activities. Monitor your children's activities with older adolescent neighbors, relatives, stepsiblings, and friends.
Sadly, so many survivors admit being abused by distant relatives or friends of the family during vacations, social events, or holidays. Keep children separate from older adolescents or adults, if you have uspicions, and make sure a protective parent watches them. Never leave your child alone or unattended. Work out a plan, in advance, between the two of you if you were ever to get separated on an outing, such as visiting a shopping mall.
Avoid parading your children in suggestive ways such as beauty pageants. She could get the idea that she is only worthwhile if adults reward her for her looks.
Spend unstructured "hang around" time with your kids, so that they'll feel comfortable opening up to you. Volunteer to carpool as often as possible - it's astounding what you can learn from listening to your children's conversations with friends.
Monitor your children's Internet use. Many pedophiles use chat rooms to make connections with their victims. Educate your child to never give personal information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers over the Internet, and never to go to someone's house that he met in a chat room. Tell them that these pedophiles assume different identities and lie about their ages and backgrounds. Don't allow your child to post a personal profile on line. Keep your computer in a public area of your house. Know your children's passwords. Install parental control software on your computer. Get involved in child-abuse prevention through your child's school. Make sure your child's school does both criminal and CPS (Child Protective Services) background checks on all its employees. Also work to get an abuse-protection curriculum.
It's Imperative That Kids Are Taught:
Talk to your child daily! Hear what they're saying!
Teach your child names for their various body parts
Teach your child about good and bad touches
Teach kids that if anyone tries to touch their
Private parts or do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, that it's OKAY TO SAY NO – even if they know the abuser
Child sexual abusers can make a child extremely fearful of telling ... and only when a special effort has helped the child to feel safe, can the child talk freely. If a child says he or she has been molested, parents must try to remain calm and reassure their child that what happened was not their fault. Parents should seek a medical examination and psychiatric consultation immediately.
Sexually abused children and their families need immediate professional evaluation and treatment. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can help abused children regain a sense of self-esteem, cope with feelings of guilt about the abuse, and begin the process of overcoming the trauma. Such treatment can help reduce the risk that the child will develop serious problems as an adult.
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