Spotting signs of child sexual abuse and how to report child sexual abuse situations
Keeping your child safe from abuse or the impact of sexual abuse requires making deliberate attempts to ensure their safety. This invariably includes knowing the signs. This way, you can nip a growing abuse situation right in the bud. We have previously discussed what child abuse is and how to teach your child to speak up about sexual abuse.
In this post, we think that you should know the signs of abuse in general. We advise parents and caregivers to keep an eye out for these and always act swiftly while trusting their intuitions. So, here it is:
What are the signs that a child is being sexually abused?
Children who are being abused are often afraid to speak up. This could be out of fear, as the abuser might have threatened the child or the child may be scared of getting punished (some children actually think it’s their fault they’re abused).
In fact, there are situations where an abused child is afraid to speak up because they think their abuser would get into trouble or because no one will believe their story. In case you’re wondering what signs to look out for when you suspect a child is being abused, here is a guide to help you:
Sexually abused children often behave in sexually inappropriate ways or use sexually explicit language in their conversations.
When a child is abused, they tend to avoid the abuser, even in public places. When you notice a child objects to spending time alone with certain adults, you may want to find out why.
Poor grades are often an obvious sign of a mentally or emotionally unstable child, and this can result from abuse. When the child’s grades begin to plummet, you should ask questions because abused children may have difficulty learning.
An abused child may start to display aggressive attitudes towards others and may start being withdrawn, clingy, have nightmares often, or start wetting the bed.
Pregnancy is another obvious sign. But this cannot be hidden, so you’ll find out anyway unless the baby is aborted.
You'll also notice some physical bruises on the child’s body, including soreness in the genital area and anus. The child may even develop sexually transmitted infections.
An abused child may begin to show signs of depression.
How do I report child sexual abuse?
Child sexual exploitation is a crime, frowned at by the law. It is best not to delay if you suspect a child is being abused.
Here’s what you can do to save a child from an abuse situation, whether it is sexual or otherwise.
You can either call the police or special authorities handling child abuse cases; you can contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
They might redirect you to local resources, such as child protective services. If you notice a child sex trafficking situation, you can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Speaking up on behalf of an abused child can help save that child from horrors you can’t even imagine. You may be hesitant to get yourself involved since you don’t know the whole story. In that case, you can report anonymously.
About the Mission Haven
We are committed to building communities where every child can simply be a kid. We're equally positioned to ensure that children faced with abuse can access timely help.
The Mission Haven runs a fully-equipped shelter that takes in and caters to the mental, social, and economic needs of kids and teenagers who have been exposed to all forms of sexual abuse, including commercial sex exploitation and sex trafficking. To give, volunteer, or become a partner, please contact us today.