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Red Flags -- Recognizing Sexual Abuse
Authors: Jessica Dunn with Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D., CFLE 

Special note: Childcare professionals are required to report suspected abuse of any kind to the proper authorities. In Indiana, call toll-free 1-800-800-5556 or go to the Prevent Child Abuse Indiana website. The toll-free numbers to report child abuse in any state may be found at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/tollfree.cfm

It may be difficult to recognize signs of sexual abuse. The following are ideas that can guide you in examining the possibility of sexual abuse. Remember that sexual abusers are not always parents; they may be siblings, relatives, neighbors, etc. This is not a complete list of symptoms. A child/parent with one or a few of these tendencies may not be involved in sexual abuse. You should be concerned when you see several of these behaviors over time.

Possible physical symptoms:
     • difficulty sitting, walking, or doing other activities that show the child is sore in the genital area
     • repeated medical problems with genitals or digestive system

Possible behaviors of child:
     • preoccupied with sex play (frequent masturbation, touching other children’s genitals, exposing genitals frequently)
     • displays more sexual tendencies than other children
     • shows unusual sexual behavior (constantly touching his genitals, rubbing genitals on inanimate objects, mimicking
       sex with dolls or toys)
     • withdraws and seems to lack social skills

Possible behaviors of parents:
     • extremely overprotective
     • overly interested in the child’s social and sexual life
     • acts jealous of the child
     • refers to the child in sexual ways

You can learn more about the symptoms of child sexual abuse. Get more information if you are concerned with how to deal with these difficult issues.


Go to:
  • Books for parents and children
          
  Sexuality education policy statement




For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at jmyerswa@purdue.edu

Please feel free to link to, print off, redistribute, or reprint
  any of these materials as long as the original credits remain intact.

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