Unfortunately, with the numbers of children being molested reaching approximately three to five million a year, it’s more important than ever to know the signs of trouble. It’s nearly impossible to give an exact number, as many cases go unreported. The estimation though, is one in four girls, and one in six boys will be the victim of sexual abuse. It is unfortunately very likely that if not your child, one or more of your child’s friends have been or are being molested. By knowing the changes in behavior that usually occur with abuse, you can stop it, and get the child the help they need and deserve.
When a child is being, or has been sexually molested there are both physical and psychological red flags.
Behavioral Signs of Sexual Abuse
1) Avoiding particular people or places.
If your child suddenly has a bout of separation anxiety when you drop them off at the babysitters to go to work, that’s one thing. If it is continuous, and they are extremely upset every time you drop them off, and cannot be consoled something is going on. Another thing to watch is the pattern. If the child knows every Monday they will be dropped off there, and shows behavior changes say Sunday, like brooding all day, this is a very important red flag.
2) Mood changes
All children have mood swings from time to time. Just like adults, they too can have a bad day. If a child who is normally very outgoing suddenly becomes shy though, this is could be due to child molestation. If a normally even tempered child suddenly and repeatedly has outbursts of rage over what appears to be unimportant, or “no big deal” things, this too could be a sign of abuse.
3) Guilt or Shame
You know your child, and you know if they have done something wrong. Why, you may ask? There’s a look they get when they know they’ve done wrong. Same with lying, I call it the lie face, everyone has one. If your child all of the sudden has this look all the time, or frequently, and they haven’t broken the vase in the living room, or fed the dog the whole ham you were going to serve for dinner, it’s time to sit down nd talk to your child. They should never ever be made to feel guilty if they have been molested, and it’s important to let them know it wasn’t their fault.
Some children have this problem naturally. Sudden onset of bedwetting is a serious sign not to be taken lightly, nor admonished. They have no control over this. This should be gently addressed parent to child, and then a doctors appointment should be made right away.
5) Inappropriate Touching
It is natural for child to be curious about his/her body and yours. If however, the child is continually touching themselves or others in places that are inappropriate, this is very important. It is a bright red flag if the child is very young, as they may be mimicking what has been done to them.
We all have them from time to time, but if your child is repeatedly having nightmares, this could be a sign of them being molested.
Physical Signs That a Child is Being Sexually Molested
1) Painful when going to the bathroom, or taking a bath
2) Bladder and urinary tract infections
3) Blood in their underwear
4) Torn or missing underwear
There are other signs besides what’s listed above. They all have root in the same basic thing, changes that come on suddenly, and stay. All of the above listed signs could also be signs of other medical, psychological problems. That is why it’s important to contact your pediatrician if you see any of these signs. Not only can they rule in/out molestation, but thy can immediately address any health issues that could be causing theses signs if it isn’t sexual molestation.