Looking for Signs of Sexual Trauma in Children

by tylercook on February 20, 2013

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Out of all the traumas that can occur during childhood, abuse is one of the most detrimental. Child abuse occurs any time that a child is mistreated physically, emotionally or sexually. Unfortunately, many children may not tell someone that they are being abused. For this reason, it is important for parents, neighbors and trusted caregivers to always be on the lookout for signs of suspected abuse. Although physical and emotional abuse may leave obvious marks, sexual trauma is often likely to go undetected. To assist those who work closely with children in recognizing sexual trauma in children, the following guide offers an overview of the signs of abuse as well as how to report one’s suspicions so that a child can receive the help they need.

Signs of Sexual Abuse
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, it is important to remember that no one sign can provide definite proof of a case of abuse without an investigation; however, there are several things to look out for that can indicate the possibility of sexual abuse. Children who are being sexually abused may show signs of discomfort when sitting or walking. They may also become protective of their bodies and refuse to change for gym or a visit to their doctor. Young children may act out situations of abuse when role playing. Older children may run away, express anger toward a parent or experience an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. Some children may also inform a trusted adult that they have been a victim of abuse. However, many children are afraid to tell and instead need an adult to notice one of these signs.

Handling Suspected Abuse
The best ways to handle suspected abuse will vary according to the relationship that the reporting adult has with the child. Parents who suspect that their child has been sexually abused by a caregiver or at a daycare will need to remove their child from the environment immediately. They may also request an examination from their child’s physician to document the physical signs of abuse. Concerned family members and neighbors may handle suspected abuse by contacting their local abuse hotline or calling the police department. Child care workers will need to document the signs of abuse that they have witnessed. Then, contact the governing agency for reporting suspicions of child abuse.

How to File a Report
When filing a report for the suspected sexual abuse of a child, there are several important things to know. First, it is best to provide as much information as possible regarding the child’s name, address and the signs of abuse that have been witnessed. Second, in most locations, it is possible to file an anonymous report in instances where a person fears retaliation; however, providing personal information may make it easier for an investigating agency to find out more details regarding the suspected abuse. Finally, a person should always remember that even the slightest of suspicions is reasonable justification for a report. It is always better to be wrong, then to let a case of abuse go unreported.

Caring for children is a rewarding opportunity that also carries some serious responsibilities. Although no one wants to think that a child in their care is being abused, it is important to know the signs to look for that indicates the possibility of sexual abuse. By knowing how to recognize these signs and where to file a report, a person can always be certain that they are prepared to help a child who may be suffering from abuse. An attorney specializing in the sexual abuse of children can help represent the case of children who have been abused by a trusted guardian, parent, coach, or any other person in a child’s life.




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