Child sexual abuse is something that should never occur. Unfortunately, children are abused in this manner on a daily basis. Children are often afraid to tell someone what is happening to them because they are threatened by their abuser in one way or another. It is up to adults to look for and recognize the signs of child sexual abuse, so they can step in and help. Here is list of warning signs to look out for.
A child who is being sexually abused may develop sleep problems. They may sleep more or less than is typical for that particular child. They may develop nightmares or other sleep disturbances. If your child or a child you know begins to exhibit these signs without any other reason or explanation, it’s time to start asking questions.
A sudden change in their eating habits may be an indication of sexual abuse. They may suddenly over eat, steal or hoard food. On the flip side, a child who is being abused may refuse to eat when they previously had a healthy appetite.
It’s typical for a child entering puberty to exhibit mood swings. A normally happy child may be irritable and crabby. A joyful, giggly child may be pleasant one moment and in tears the next. These things are normal. If a child you know has not yet entered puberty and is exhibiting sudden mood swings, find out why. If a child has entered puberty, you should still ask questions to be sure it’s the reason for changes in their mood.
A child who is being sexually abused may be suddenly fearful of new people or places. If your child doesn’t want to spend the night in the home of certain adults, shies away from meeting new people or doesn’t want to leave the house, ask why.
A child who is being abused may start behaving in an overtly sexual manner. They may also begin writing stories or drawing images that are sexual in nature. Sexual exploration is a natural part of growing up, but it is normally seen in preteens and teenagers and is not always so obvious.
Those who are abusing children can sometimes be spotted by their behaviors. It’s important to understand that the following behaviors are not always indicators that a person is abusing a child. These are warning signs that they may be abusing a child, and the behaviors could warrant further investigation.
A sexual abuser of children and adults may ignore physical, social and emotional boundaries. Where other people would stop their actions after noticing that they are making people uncomfortable, these abusers do not. They may actually enjoy the fact that their behavior is making other people uncomfortable.
Look for a person who insists on touching a child who doesn’t wish to be touched. This may include hugging, wrestling or tickling. Most adults will stop when a child asks them to. Most adults can determine via body language that a child doesn’t want to be touched, even if that child doesn’t verbalize it.
It’s not unusual for family members to want to spend time with your children. Aunts, uncles and grandparents may all seek time with little ones in the family. What may be unusual is an adult friend of the family who seeks extraordinary amounts of alone time with a child. Babysitting for free, taking the child on frequent outings and more could be a sign that something is wrong.
Adults will guide children when they are exhibiting inappropriate behaviors. An adult may direct a child to more appropriate forms of play, explain why some conversations are for older people or have a discussion about why some behaviors are a bit more mature. An adult who is sexually abusing a child may let these behaviors go or even encourage them.
An adult who is abusing a child may frequently “accidentally” walk in on that child when they are in the bathroom or changing in their bedroom. These are not accidental occurrences at all and should be taken as a warning sign.
Child sexual abuse is not something to be tolerated and a suspected abuser should be reported to the police. If you believe that your child is being abused by an adult, there is help available to you. In fact, child sexual abuse falls under the umbrella of personal injury law. If you believe that your child is being abused in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Southern Florida, reach out to our team for assistance. We understand that emotions may be running high during this time, and we are here to get justice for you and your family.