1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their eighteenth birthday.
Only 1 in 10 will tell. A recent study of 116 confirmed cases of abuse where a child disclosed, showed that 74% of the time it was an accidental disclosure. This means that the abuse was discovered not by the child coming forth with the information, but by third parties observing unusual behaviors or symptoms. Some signs to look for in a child suffering from abuse are as follows:
- Child acts out sexually
- Child acts out behaviorally
- Child develops venereal disease and infections
- Child has frequent fears, anxieties, nightmares
- Child has poor self-esteem or depression
- Adolescents may run away, commit crimes, abuse drugs & alcohol
- Adolescents become withdrawn and depressed
- Adolescents are self-injurious or suicidal
It is important to note here that many times children and adolescents display no symptoms (over 1/3 of confirmed cases). For this reason, it is important to do whatever you can to prevent and educate your home about sexual abuse. Talk to your children about “welcome” and “unwelcome” touches. Empower them to say “No” and get away from uncomfortable situations. They need to know they should tell you or another trusted adult if someone has made them uncomfortable. If you can’t see the symptoms of abuse, giving your child the opportunity for open dialogue can make all the difference in preventing and treating sexual abuse.