About Abuse


Staff Writer

Sometimes children will tell one person and tragically, that person doesn’t take them seriously. That’s why children need to be taught to keep telling people until change takes place.

Tell ten people. If you must, tell ten people every day until someone is brave enough to help you.


Staff Writer

Our goal is to encourage families to teach their children to overcome fear and to be able to scream the words, “STOP! DON’T TOUCH ME THERE!

If the children are ever in a situation where they are being touched inappropriately, they will be confident about what to say and do.

One in ten children will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.1 Why don’t children tell?  They are afraid, threatened and their fear turns into denial, then disassociation, where they imagine that they are somewhere else.

Having children memorize the short simple phrase, “Stop! Don’t touch me!” before the situation takes place will empower them to stop their abusers.

1 Research by www.D2L.org.

What We Know About Child Sexual Abuse

Staff Writer

Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an older person. These behaviors are meant to arouse the older person in a sexual way. In general, no thought is given to what effect the behavior may have on the child. For the most part, the abuser does not care about the reactions or choices of the child.

Child sexual abuse often involves body contact. This could include sexual kissing, touching, and oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Not all sexual abuse involves body contact, though. Showing private parts (“flashing”), forcing children to watch pornography, verbal pressure for sex, and exploiting children as prostitutes or for pornography can be sexual abuse as well. Researchers estimate that in our country about one out of six boys and one out of four girls are sexually abused.

Under the child sexual abuse laws, the abuser must be older than the victim in most cases. Some states require the abuser to be at least five years older.

Who commits child sexual abuse?

Most often, sexual abusers know the child they abuse, but are not family. For example, the abuser might be a friend of the family, babysitter, or neighbor. About 6 out of 10 abusers fall into that group.
About 3 out of 10 of those who sexually abuse children are family members of the child. This includes fathers, uncles, or cousins.

The abuser is a stranger in only about 1 out of 10 child sexual abuse cases.

Abusers are men in most cases, whether the victim is a boy or a girl.
Women are the abusers in about 14% of cases reported against boys and about 6% of cases reported against girls.

Child pornographers and other abusers who are strangers may make contact with children using the Internet.

What are the effects of childhood sexual abuse?

It is not always easy to tell whether a child has been sexually abused. Sexual abuse often occurs in secret, and there is not always physical proof of the abuse. For these reasons, child sexual abuse can be hard to detect.

Some child sexual abuse survivors may show symptoms of PTSD. They may behave in a nervous, upset way. Survivors may have bad dreams. They may act out aspects of the abuse in their play. They might show other fears and worries. Young children may lose skills they once learned and act younger than they are. For example, an abused child might start wetting the bed or sucking his or her thumb. Some sexual abuse survivors show out-of-place sexual behaviors that are not expected in a child. They may act seductive or they may not maintain safe limits with others. Children, especially boys, might “act out” with behavior problems. This could include being cruel to others and running away. Other children “act in” by becoming depressed. They may withdraw from friends or family. Older children or teens might try to hurt or even kill themselves.

Sexual abuse can be very confusing for children. For a child, it often involves being used or hurt by a trusted adult. The child might learn that the only way to get attention or love is to give something sexual or give up their self-respect. Some children believe the abuse is their fault somehow. They may think the abuser chose them because they must have wanted it or because there is something wrong with them. If the abuser was of the same sex, children (and parents) might wonder if that means they are “gay.”

Almost every child sexual abuse victim describes the abuse as negative. Most children know it is wrong. They usually have feelings of fear, shock, anger, and disgust. A small number of abused children might not realize it is wrong, though. These children tend to be very young or have mental delays. Also some victims might enjoy the attention, closeness, or physical contact with the abuser. This is more likely if these basic needs are not met by a caregiver. All told, these reactions make the abuse very hard and confusing for children.

If childhood sexual abuse is not treated, long-term symptoms can go on through adulthood. These may include:

  • PTSD and anxiety.
  • Depression and thoughts of suicide.
  • Sexual anxiety and disorders, including having too many or unsafe sexual partners.
  • Difficulty setting safe limits with others (e.g., saying no to people) and relationship problems.
  • Poor body image and low self-esteem.
  • Unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or eating problems. These behaviors are often used to try to hide painful emotions related to the abuse.
  • If you were sexually abused as a child and have some of these symptoms, it is important for you to get help.
What can caregivers do to help keep children safe?

Although caregivers cannot protect their children 100% of the time, it is important to get to know the people that come around your child. You can find out whether someone has been charged with sexual abuse and find out where sexual abusers live in your area by going to the website FamilyWatchdog.com .

Most importantly, provide a safe, caring setting so children feel able to talk to you about sexual abuse.

Other tips to keep your children safe include:

Talk to others who know the people with whom your child comes in contact.

Talk to your children about the difference between safe touching and unsafe touching.
Tell the child that if someone tries to touch his or her body in their private areas or do things that make the child feel unsafe, he should say NO to the person. He needs to tell you or a trusted adult about it right away.

Let children know that their bodies are private and that they have the right not to allow others to touch their bodies in an unsafe way.

Let them know that they do not have to do EVERYTHING the babysitter, family member, or group leader tells them to do.

Alert your children that abusers may use the Internet. Watch over your child on the Internet.

What should you do if you think your child has been sexually abused?

If a child says she or he has been abused, try to stay calm. Reassure the child that what happened is not her fault, that you believe her, that you are proud of her for telling you (or another person), and that you are there to keep her safe. Take your child to a mental health and medical professional right away. Many cities have child advocacy centers where a child and her family can get help. These centers interview children and family members in a sensitive, warm place. They can help you report the abuse to legal authorities. They can help you find a medical examiner and therapist skilled in child sexual abuse. The National Children’s Alliance website has more information and a listing of centers.

Children can recover from sexual abuse and go on to live good lives. The best predictor of recovery is support and love from their main caregiver. As a caregiver, you might also consider getting help for yourself. It is often very hard to accept that a child has been sexually abused. You will not be supporting your child, though, if you respond in certain unhelpful ways. For example, you will not be able to provide support if you are overwhelmed with your own emotions. Don’t downplay the abuse (“it wasn’t that bad”), but also try not to have extreme fears related to the abuse (“my child will never be safe again”). It will not help children if you force them to talk, or if you blame the child. Getting therapy for yourself can help you deal with your own feelings about the abuse. Then you might be better able to provide support to your child.

Recommended books for child sexual abuse

My Body Is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard and Rodney Pate (1992)

Please Tell!: A Child’s Story About Sexual Abuse by Jessie Ottenweller (1991)

Something Happened to Me by Phyllis E. Sweet (1985)

It Happens to Boys Too by Jane Satullo and Russell Bradway (1987)

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (4th edition) by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis (2008)

Wounded Boys Heroic Men: A Man’s Guide to Recovering from Child Abuse by Daniel Jay Sonkin and Lenore E. A. Walker (1998)

Abuse of Adolescents

Staff Writer

While the media continue to report incidents of school employee sexual misconduct, few empirical studies focus on this issue. Research conducted in a landscape analysis of 361 published school employee sexual misconduct cases in the United States from 2014, documented factors such as offender and victim characteristics, type of incident, technology use, location of offense, and resulting disciplinary actions by schools and law enforcement.

These analyses showed that offenders were most often male and general education teachers, with approximately a quarter identified as athletic coaches. Offenders’ average age was 36 years, while the average age of victims was 15.

More than half of incidents took place at school or school-related events. Results also showed that school employee sexual misconduct incidents most often involved physical contact; however, technology (i.e., cell phones, computers, cameras/video recorders, and storage devices) played an important role in three out of four cases.

Finally, analyses of the criminal and school-related consequences showed that over half of offenders were placed on administrative leave or resigned immediately following their arrest and almost all were convicted of their crimes. Additional findings concerning this topic are also reported in this article.


Exposing School Employee Sexual Abuse and Misconduct: Shedding Light on a Sensitive Issue. 1a Magnolia Consulting , LLC , Charlottesville , VA, USA.  2b Department of Statistics, California Polytechnic State University , San Luis Obispo , CA , USA.


Sexual Abuse in Children – What to Know

Staff Writer

Sexual abuse is one form of child abuse. It includes a wide range of actions between a child and an adult or older child. Often these involve body contact, but not always. Exposing one’s genitals to children or pressuring them for sex is sexual abuse. Using a child for pornography is also sexual abuse.

Most sexual abusers know the child they abuse. They may be family friends, neighbors or babysitters. About one-third of abusers are related to the child. Most abusers are men. If you think a child may have been abused, it’s important to report it.

One in four girls and one in ten boys are sexually abused before they turn 18.

Sexual abuse of children is any activity that the abuser does to get sexually aroused, including:
  • Touching a child’s genitals
  • Rubbing the abuser’s genitals against a child’s skin or clothing’
  • Putting objects into a child’s anus or vagina
  • Tongue kissing
  • Oral sex
  • Intercourse
Sexual abuse can also happen without physical contact, such as:
  • Exposing one’s own genitals
  • Having a child pose for pornography
  • Having a child look at pornography
  • Masturbating in front of a child
  • Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children
Suspect sexual abuse when children:
  • Tell you that they are being sexually abused
  • Have trouble sitting or standing
  • Won’t change for gym
  • Have sexually transmitted diseases or become pregnant
  • Know about and talk about sex
  • Run away
  • Have adults in their lives that keep them from having contact with other adults
  • Keep to themselves and seem to have secrets
Sexually abused children might have:
  • Bowel control problems, such as soiling themselves (encopresis)
  • Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa)
  • Genital or rectal problems, such as pain when going to the bathroom, or vaginal itch or discharge
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach aches
Sexually abused children may also:
  • Use alcohol or drugs
  • Engage in high-risk sexual behaviors
  • Get poor grades in school
  • Have a lot of fears
  • Not want to do their normal activities
When to Contact Your Doctor

If you think a child has been sexually abused, get the child examined by a health care provider.  Find a provider that knows about sexual abuse. Most pediatricians, family medicine providers, and emergency room providers have been trained to examine people that have been sexually abused. Have the child examined right away or within 2 to 3 days of discovering the abuse. The signs of sexual abuse don’t last long, and the provider may not be able to tell if you wait too long.

During the exam, the provider will:
  • Look for signs of physical and sexual abuse. The provider will check the child’s mouth, throat, anus, and penis or vagina.
  • Do blood tests to check for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
  • Take photographs of any injuries, if needed.

Get the child any needed medical care. Also get mental health counseling for the child. Active support groups that can help, such as Childhelp — www.childhelp.org or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network — www.rainn.org

Know that providers, teachers, and child care workers are required by law to report sexual abuse. If abuse is suspected, child protection agencies and the police will investigate. The child must be protected from abuse. The child may be placed with a non-abusing parent, another relative, or in a foster home.


Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Child abuse and neglect. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 22.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Identification of sexual abuse. www.childwelfare.gov/can/identifying/sex_abuse.cfm. Accessed January 12, 2016.