What Are the Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children?

Did you know that every 9 minutes child protective services find evidence for a claim of sexual abuse? 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. Given how common sexual abuse of children is, do you know what to look out for in your children?

Many parents and caregivers have misconceptions about who is most likely to commit sexual abuse and what to look for. We’re here to help. Read on to learn about the signs of sexual abuse in children.

Behavioral Changes

Children who are being sexually abused often change their behaviors. Some changes you might notice include:

  • Not wanting to play or lack of enjoyment in things they usually like
  • Avoiding certain places or people
  • Demonstrating sexual behavior that is not age-appropriate
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Distraction
  • Change in eating habits

You may also notice that older children begin to have child-like behaviors, such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking. They may also resist removing their clothes at appropriate times, such as for a bath or changing clothes for bed.

Adolescent Behavior Changes 

With older kids, you might notice different changes. If you notice that your pre-teen or teen starts dressing differently, has possessions from an unknown source (such as new clothes, shoes, electronics, etc. that you did not purchase), substance abuse, and secretive online usage, there might be something going on that you will want to investigate.

It is difficult to identify sexual abuse, however, because many of the behavioral and emotional changes are often attributed to normal adolescent and teenage behavior changes.

Emotional Changes 

Emotional changes may be more pronounced among adolescents and teens, including sudden and unexplained mood swings, confusion about sexual identity, aggression, and chronic stomachaches and headaches.

Older kids may also become unusually upset if a specific person or place is mentioned, with no explanation for this anger. Low self-esteem and withdrawal from school, friends, and social activities often characterize teens and adolescents who are being abused.

Physical Signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse may be more noticeable in younger children, who are more likely to be assisted by parents when bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Some things to watch for include:

  • Blood in undergarments
  • Pain when using the bathroom
  • Swelling or redness around the genitals
  • Discomfort when sitting or walking
  • UTIs
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (look for sores or unexplained discharge)

In pre-teen and teen girls who have gotten their first period, a missed period could be an indicates of sexual abuse. If you suspect anything, you may want to consult with a sexual abuse lawyer. Check out www.sexabusesurvivorlawfirm.com to learn more.

Don’t Ignore These Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children 

If you notice any of these signs of sexual abuse in children and suspect that an adult is engaging in sexual behaviors with your child, don’t hesitate to start investigating.

There are some steps that you can take to get to the bottom of it, so be sure to consult with expert advice to determine what is going on.

If you found this information useful, be sure to check out some of our other articles before you go.