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Safety and Injuries > Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse

The statistics on sexual abuse are frightening: 1 in 10 males and 1 in 5 females will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old.

Teaching “stranger” safety is not enough: Only 11% of children are abused by strangers, 29% are by relatives, 60% by others known to the child (neighbors, teachers, coaches, etc.). What can parents do to protect their children? Learn the profiles of people who abuse children. Learn the warning signs in children. Listen to your children if they tell of a problem - most aren’t making it up!

Perpetrators often “groom” their victims. They do this by gaining the child (and family’s) confidence. They become “friends” with the child, listening to the child, giving gifts or money to the child, allowing things the parents have forbidden (such as violent video games, pornography, drugs/alcohol). They entrust the child to keep secrets and make the child feel that he/she cannot tell what is happening for fear of getting in trouble from the parent. The abuser may threaten to harm the child/family member/pet if the secret is told.

Ways to prevent abuse start with talking to your children. Really listen when they talk. Ask follow-up questions to show you are listening and you care. Children who feel neglected will look to another adult for support and predators may look for “needy” children. Set firm rules for your children to allow them to only be with adults with others around, in open areas. Be sure they know they should never be in a secluded area alone with an adult. Check the areas your child goes (school, gym/dance center, skating rink) to be sure there are no unlocked areas that are isolated, such as a closet or un-used room. Any place your child goes should be freely accessible to multiple people. Do random checks on places your child goes to be sure rules are being followed. Ask if teachers, coaches and volunteers have been screened with background checks. Insist that they are! Learn how to protect your children from on-line predators.

Signs that a child is in an abusive relationship are many. They are vague and certainly any child that exhibits some of these symptoms may not be abused. Most children have some of these signs at any given time. There are many causes to most of these signs, but if your child has any of these and you are concerned, exploring the situation is imperative!

If your child ever comments that someone did something that is not appropriate, remember that children seldom make this up. Thank the child for telling you. Make the child feel secure. Tell the child you will help keep it from happening again. Be sure the child knows it is not his/her fault and he/she will not be in trouble. Tell the authorities. Being overly cautious with the well-being of a child is ok. Missing the opportunity to intervene if there is a problem may have horrible consequences.

Signs of abuse may include:

  • Moodiness/aggressiveness
  • Decrease in grades
  • Poor hygiene or excessive bathing
  • Increased or decreased sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Bed wetting
  • Unexplained crying
  • Fear of adults
  • Increased dependence on an adult
  • Sexual acting out with toys
  • Seductive behavior
  • Withdrawal from peers
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Suicide/suicidal thoughts
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Bruises/bleeding around mouth or anus
  • Blood in underwear
  • Genital rash/redness/itching/foul odor
  • Difficulty walking/sitting
  • Overly mature behavior
  • Self-mutilation
  • Recurrent headaches, stomach aches, not explained by illness

In our area a great resource for abused children is the Sunflower House.

The Kansas Crisis Hotline is a toll-free, 24-hour statewide hotline linking victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to local services. The Kansas Crisis Hotline: 1-888-363-2287

To get help after sexual assault, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault is available. They provide free-of-charge counseling to children, families, and individuals. They offer 24-hour victim assistance with a 24-hour crisis line, as well as hospital and police advocacy in the KC Metro.

24 Hour Crisis Line

(816) 531-0233
(913) 642-0233

You can search for known predators in your area and sign up for free notification if a known predator moves to your area at Family Watchdog.

For help talking with your children, check out SafeSide.

For more information about internet safety check out our section about internet safety.

Share this great infographic with your kids. It is from SomeSecrets, a great site with many resources.

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