What are some of the recognizable signs of molestation or abuse in your child?
Most kids don’t tell anyone if they are victims of incestuous assault or sexual abuse, mostly because they think no one will believe them or they have been threatened or intimidated by the perpetrator. Often the telling is not in words, but through abrupt changes in behavior. Since children are not usually able to tell directly, it helps to be sensitive to their signals. Parents can spot molestation by being alert to the following signs and signals in a child:
- A pattern of catering to a man in inappropriate, adult ways—giving him backrubs, bringing in his newspaper, even volunteering to cook for him. This is different than just a little girl occasionally wanting to do something nice, but rather a pattern of trying to please an adult male.
- Precocious or exaggerated sexual behavior. Small children may constantly “play doctor’ and use sex terms without knowing their meaning. Pre-teens and teenagers may become suddenly sexually aggressive or promiscuous.
- An increasing dependency on one male relative or friend who has imbued her with an “us against them” philosophy.
- A habit of enjoying special treats, gifts and attention from a man who may devise ways to be alone with her
- Sexual behavior or knowledge inappropriate to the child’s age may be one of the first signs. If they seem to know a lot about sex and sexual language outside of their usual age group, you should wonder and ask “where did you learn about that?’
- Indirect allusions to problems at home, or a friends home, usually not in direct statements, but through such statements as “I don’t want to go to Uncle Charlie’s house” or “maybe I should go live somewhere else.’
- Mystifying statements that indicate a desire to tell someone, such as “I don’t like Mr. Smith anymore,” or “My uncle Dave wears funny underwear.”
- A sudden reluctance to go to a particular place, or to be with a particular person.
- Suddenly turning against a parent or relative.
- Unpredictable poor grades or erratic grade performance or suddenly becoming an overachiever in school.
- Lack of attention in class or group meetings.
- Extreme changes in behavior, acting out, becoming either aggressive or withdrawn.
- Any unusual behavior, especially if child appears to be out of control for instance; bullying younger children or animals.
- Not wanting to go home.
- Poor peer relationships, lack of social skills, too distressed to make friends (the adult offender has a vested interest in keeping the child isolated).
- Sexual promiscuity, apparent to school and neighborhood. Have others reported incidents to you?
These are all signs and symptoms of many different things going on in the life of a child. They do not necessarily signify abuse! But they are a red flag that something is amiss and you will want to spend some time and care talking gently to your child.
Please remember, sexual abuse is never something a child should be blamed for. It is the duty and responsibility of adults to protect and guard those who are innocent and vulnerable.
This is part of a new book coming out soon “Caution Without Fear–Safeguarding Children From Sexual Abuse & What To Do If It Has Occurred” available at http://www.Artichokepress.com Written by parent educator and life coach Judy Helm Wright aka “Auntie Artichoke”