Child Sexual Abuse 0

How To Spot the Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse of Children

Child sexual abuse is generally defined to include sexual stimulations, interactions and other similar activities with a person under the age of consent. These actions include sexual intercourse as well as oral or manual stimulation, inappropriate touching or kissing and even suggestive sexual conversation.

classified as a pedophile.There are four basic types of sexual abuse when dealing with children:

  • Sexual assault: Sexual assault covers inappropriate forms of direct physical contact such as actual sexual intercourse as well as touching, fondling and kissing.
  • Sexual exploitation: This form of sexual abuse includes the exploitation of a child for profit or for personal or public sexual gratification, such as in child pornography and child prostitution.
  • Sexual molestation: Exposing a child to inappropriate sexually-oriented materials such pornography.
  • Sexual grooming: A preliminary set of actions designed to prepare the child for other forms of sexual abuse. These actions include befriending the child, alienating them from family and friends and introducing the child to sexually-oriented content and materials.

Child sexual abuse can be committed by adult offenders as well as young adults and other children. Adult offenders are often referred to as “pedophiles” however, this term actually encompasses a psychiatric disorder that requires the offender to have a pre-disposed preference to pre-adolescent or pre-pubescent children. One does not have to act on these feeling to be suffering from pedophilia – the mere desire consitutes the disorder and not all sexual offenders meet the criteria to be technically classified as a pedophile.

Sexual abuse by another minor occurs when the offender uses force, coercion or manipulation to facilitate the sexual conduct – it does not include sexual relations between “consenting” parties.

That said, sexual relations between a minor and a person of legal age is often termed “statutory rape” even when the parties are close in age and claim the sex was mutually-consentual. This is because minors are not able to give actual “consent” to sexual relations and once the other party reaches the age of majority, sexual relations with a minor is considered to be a criminal offense.


Children who have suffered sexual abuse can develop a wide range of physical and emotional problems. Many develop difficulties maintaining healthy relationships later in life and can suffer from a variety of disorders including anxiety and depression.

Sexually abused children are also more likely to become abusers themselves later in life and frequently struggle with drug abuse, criminal behavior and even suicidal tendencies.

Warning Signs

Unfortunately, you may not immediately know if a child has been sexually-abused as some children do not initially manifest any attention-getting symptoms. There are some warning signs however that can alert you to the possibility and allow you to pay closer attention to the child and the situation.

  • Unexplained fear of certain persons or places
  • Sudden onset of sleeping disorders including nightmares, insomnia and sleep-walking
  • Drastic and sudden change in behavior
  • Unexplained withdrawal from family and/or friends
  • Inappropriate sexual conduct, language or behavior
  • Bedwetting when previously potty-trained
  • New clothes, money and other “gifts” without explanation
  • Cutting and other self-mutilating behaviors
  • Pain, cuts or bruises on or around the genital area

What You Can Do

There are a number of ways to seek help when you believe your child may have been sexually abused. Your doctor can examine your child and confirm or alleviate your suspicions. Counselorsand therapists can also assist by talking to your child and helping them disclose the reasons for the erratic behaviors. There are also a host of local and national organizations dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse as well as providing resources to facilitate the healing process.

If you suspect your child has been sexually abused, get help now.


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