What is Child Sexual Abuse?
The sexual abuse of a child comes in many forms. Some of the physical aspects of this include fondling, forcing a child to touch an adult’s genitals, penetrating a child’s anus or vagina with any object not used for a valid medical purpose, sexual kissing, oral-genital contact, or masturbation.
Other forms of child sexual abuse include forcing the child to view pornography (which means exposing the child to adult sexuality), forcing the child into prostitution, exposing body parts to the child, ogling the child’s body, verbal pressure for sex, using the child in pornography, or exposing the child online for sexual gratification.
It is thought that 9.3 percent of the confirmed child abuse/neglect cases of 2005 involved some sort of sexual abuse. This statistic translates to over 83,800 victims in the year 2005.
Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
The effects of child sexual abuse will impact the victim long past childhood. It can rob victims of their innocence and significantly disrupt their childhoods. Such abuse can cause the victim to experience a loss of trust, self-abusive behavior, and/or feelings of guilt. It can also cause antisocial behavior, identity confusion, depression, attacks on self-esteem, difficulty with intimate relationships later in life, and/or other emotional problems.
Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse
There are many symptoms of child sexual abuse to look for if you know or suspect your child been the victim of sexual abuse.
Victims of Sexual Abuse Aged 3 Years and Younger May Exhibit:
- Fear or Excessive Crying
- Feeding Problems
- Bowel Problems
- Failure to Thrive
- Sleep Disturbances
Victims of Sexual Abuse at Ages 2 to 9 May Exhibit:
- Victimization of Others
- Excessive Masturbation
- Feelings of Guilt and Shame
- Withdrawal from Family and Friends
- Regression to Previous Behaviors
- Fears of Particular Places, People, and/or Activities
- Eating Disturbances
- Nightmares or Other Sleep Disturbances
- Fear of Attack Happening Again
Symptoms of Sexual Abuse in Older Children and Adolescents Could Include:
- Poor School Performance
- Sleep Disturbances and/or Nightmares
- Abuse of Substances
- Running Away from Home
- Disturbances in Eating
- Suicidal Gestures
- Pseudo-Mature Behavior
- Aggression at Being in Situations Beyond One’s Control
- Early Pregnancy and/or Marriage
Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
It is important to teach children to be able to tell their parents and/or other authority figures if someone is trying to touch their sexual parts or touch them in any way that causes discomfort. It is important to note if the child acts strangely in front of certain adults as well because this can be an indicator of abuse.
Support for the Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
It is important to stress to children that they can speak up and openly admit if they were abused. It is important to stress that what happened to them was not their fault. It is important to note that everyone in the child’s life should play a part in the healing process by being supportive and caring for the child.