Friday, January 11, 2008

Child Sexual Assault

Child Sexual Assault

Child sexual assault is unwanted physical contact by a non-caretaker with a child for sexual gratification. Sexual assault can include fondling or touching of private parts and non-touching experiences, such as exposing private parts for the purpose of sexual gratification. Sexual assault is a crime and can be reported to the police at any time. Even without a police report, the victim and his or her family can receive counseling and other support services.

If the offender is a caretaker, such as a baby-sitter, family member, teacher or clergy-person etc... the offense is called sexual abuse. Sexual abuse allegations must be reported to Child Protective Services.

The offender is the only person responsible for the sexual assault. Sometimes the offender is someone the child knows, like a neighbor, family friend, or even other children. In other cases, the offender is a stranger who has gained access to the child. Frequently the offender forces the child to keep the touching secret, either by threatening harm to the child or to someone the child loves. In most situations, the child is tricked, bribed, or manipulated. Children often cooperate with the offender out of fear and confusion.

A child's reaction to sexual assault can vary, depending on a combination of factors. These factors include the child's age, the nature of the offense, the identity of the offender, and the frequency and duration of the assault.

The most damaging factors to a child who has been assaulted are to be disbelieved, to be held responsible for the assault, or to be left in a vulnerable situation without protection.

Even if the child has experienced a sexual contact, such as gentle fondling, the touching arouses physical sensations with which a child is unprepared to cope. Intellectually, an incident may be beyond the child's level of comprehension and create considerable confusion.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sexual Assault

Children do not always communicate directly about sexual assault. Treatment experts have developed a list of common indicators (behaviors that can indicate assault may have occurred). The presence of several of these indicators should act as an alert that a child needs help, and the possibility of inappropriate touching should be explored. However, please remember that these symptoms DO NOT necessarily mean touching HAS occurred. Further information and assessment may be necessary. When physical signs are present in combination with behavioral signs, trust your instincts and seek help and advice from experts.

Physical Signs
  • Stains, discharge, or blood on a child's underwear.
  • Swelling, redness, soreness, bruises, or itching of the genital area, buttocks, and breasts.
  • Venereal disease.
  • Vaginal or penile infections.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Burning at urination or frequent urination.
  • Retention of bowels.
  • History of eating disorders (Anorexia or Bulimia).

Behavioral Indicators

Pre-School Children
  • Advanced sexual knowledge observed in play with toys, peers or in pictures.
  • Specific fears of a person, a place or the dark.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Physical complaints like headaches or stomach aches.
  • Nightmares.
  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Difficulty making friends.
  • Moodiness.
  • Bed wetting.
  • Anxiety, jumpiness, easily startled.
  • Aggressiveness, or withdrawn behavior.
  • Resumption of immature behaviors such as thumbsucking, baby talk, and clinging to objects or parents.
  • Guilt and self blame.
School Aged Children and Teenagers
  • Problems at school: inability to concentrate, acting out, declining performance, truancy.
  • Increasing social isolation from peers.
  • Sleep disruptions.
  • Changes in eating patterns.
  • Specific fears of people, places, things.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Moodiness, irritability, depression, anxiety.
  • Aggressive and/or withdrawn behaviors.
  • Immature or pseudo-adult behaviors.
  • Running away and suicidal ideas and/or gestures.
  • Lying and stealing.
  • Physical complaints.
  • Destructive behavior towards self or others.
  • Advanced sexual knowledge and behaviors with others.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Delinquency.

If You Think Your Child Has Been Sexually Assaulted

Listen to your child and believe what he/she tells you.

Reassure your child that he/she is safe, not to blame, and is loved.

Praise your child for telling you.

Respond by providing protection to your child. Tell your child you will do what is necessary to make sure he/she is safe. DO NOT overreact. Try not to panic or lose control. Take care not to overwhelm your child with your feelings, particularly anger or shock.

Support your child by respecting his/her privacy, staying calm, and allowing the child to tell you what happened and ask questions at his/her own pace. Never judge, criticize, accuse, ignore or deny. Assure your child that the assault was not his/her fault. Sexual assault is always the responsibility of the offender.

Reporting the sexual assault to the police is voluntary and will be investigated. By reporting the offender's behavior you may be protecting your child from continued unwanted touching or another child from being assaulted. This is the most important way of preventing further victimization.

Seek medical attention to assess for injury, disease and appropriate intervention.

Sexual Assault Outreach Volunteers are available 24-hours a day to provide immediate crisis intervention to you and your child. Crisis intervention helps to clarify the problem, to provide direction, and to obtain emotional support when you need it most. Counselors, with specialized training, also provide (by appointment) assessment and ongoing treatment to sexual assault victims and adults who were molested as children.

Where to Call

To request counseling, assessment, support and information regarding sexual assault, call the VICTIM ASSISTANCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT PROGRAM. To report sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect, call the CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES. To report to the Police a rape or sexual assault of a victim under 18 years of age, call the POLICE.


Endoscopy said...

I was a foster parent for many years. I had children who had had this happen to them by caretakers including parents and live in boyfriends. The children have many problems and are warped many times for life. People who do these things are the scum of the earth.

ecotourusa said...

when i was a kid, there was this man that all the kids hung out with: "ranger joe." we would ride his golf cart and have fun. but, at times when he breathed heavy and petted us, I thought he had asthma or something. I just came to the realization recently that he was fondling us and getting turned on. i was too young to realize it. i trusted him, so I never told anyone.

there are lots of sick creatures out there...keep your children close always.

morelies said...

Unfortunately, the whole idea of making a registry was to know who these types are and our legislators have become so overzealous with filling the registry up with everyone and anyone, that now 2 teens who had consensual sex, as well as the kid who leans out the bus window to moon the other team on the way by, all end up labeled as "child molesting predators" and are added to the registry..thereby making it a useless peice of garbage ....pretty soon all teens will be listed and all the real pervs will be still doing what they do. Sad, but our lawmakers are so clueless, they protect no one.

lvrofwolves said...

It's a shame some teens fooling around or having 'consensual sex' are falling into the catagories or are included as sexual predators..but lawmakers DO protect children. I don't condone or want to encourage teens having sex, but they should be removed from any sexual predator list case by case. I don't think it's appropriate for a 19yr old to be fooling around with a 13yr old and should be a crime, however 2 teens 18/17 if it's 'consensual' shouldn't be listed as criminals.

I agree with you Endoscopy, any adult who gets sexual gratification from children is scum of the earth.

mesodude said...

This is one of the best arguments I can think of for some form of early sex education for children. As nice as it would be to keep children innocent until they turn 18, the reality is that if the subject is never raised by a parent, the chances are that a predator or another child will, shall we say, broach the subject (and not in an appropriate way). Do I think 5 year-olds need to know the details of the birds and the bees? No. But at the very least they should know what constitutes inappropriate touching so that: a) they will know not to inappropriately touch other children and b) they'll know how to recognize an inappropriate incident between them and another child or an adult and then promptly notify someone they trust (which, by the way, might or might not be a parent).

River Rat said...

Very good article although I don't see any difference in abuse by a caregiver or assault by a neighbor or stranger. They are both awful and should be punished to the furthest extension of the law. I was sexually abused from the time I was three years old until I was seventeen by a person who lived in my home. I was threatened and physically abused to keep my mouth shut. I was told I would be killed if I told any one and who would believe a little liar like me? As I got a little older my abuser invited his sick friends to also abuse me. I had every sign on the list but no one came to my rescue. I felt like a filthy piece of trash and was often told that that is what I was. What finally made me speak out is when I realized that this was also happening to my younger sister.

Charlson said...

I see red when a sex offender is given a light sentence or almost none at all by lenient judges. I suspect many of these judges are offenders themselves. I really don't equate consensual sex among teens as a criminal offense but when an adult abuses a child or when a person in power uses that power to force someone else to perform sexual favors then these are the lowest form of life and deserve lengthy sentences.

Will1313 said...

rare the we agree..

instant execution .. after a swift and speedy trial...

guilty.. hung.. done..

Will1313 said...

are the lowest form of life and deserve lengthy sentences


pedophiles cannot be CURED.. neuter them or kill them..

Vociferous said...

I am a parent of 4 very young children. Since the time they are no longer in diapers and could have basic language skill we taught them appropriate in inappropriate touching. Why is it that our society wants the school system to be the primary education device? The last place I want to have my child exposed to this education is in front of 15-25 other kids and getting them thinking as a group how to molest each other. Once again we have parents that have lost a desire to be the primary educators in their children's lives.

mesodude said...

"I am a parent of 4 very young children. Since the time they are no longer in diapers and could have basic language skill we taught them appropriate in inappropriate touching. Why is it that our society wants the school system to be the primary education device?"

--I don't remember mentioning the school system or advocating any one source or approach over another. I merely said they need to be educated. A million teen girls get pregnant every year and we have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Western world.

Obviously there are a lot of parents not doing their job and the result is that we *all* pay. If our tax dollars are being squandered because of high teen pregnancy rate, then it seems to me that it's appropriate that the government have a hand in addressing the problem.

mesodude said...

"The last place I want to have my child exposed to this education is in front of 15-25 other kids and getting them thinking as a group how to molest each other. Once again we have parents that have lost a desire to be the primary educators in their children's lives."

--Um, I think maybe you're confusing sex education with sex *therapy*. You mentioned that you have very young children so I'd be curious to know how you would know that children are taught to molest one another? LOL Really, what evidence do you have that sex education classes teach children how to perform the act? Anyway, if you were given the curriculum in advance, you'd know what was being covered and you wouldn't be walking around with these lurid fantasies. omg

lvrofwolves said...

A movie I just watched last week, I think may have traumatized me some, it was so hideous.

The Girl Next Door (2007)

Inspired by true events, this thriller set in 1958 follows the harrowing story of two adolescent girls (Blythe Auffarth, Madeline Taylor), who upon losing their parents in an accident are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker), a sadistic psychopath. Unbeknownst to the residents of the small New Jersey suburb, the girls endure unthinkable punishment at the hands of their aunt and three cousins.

The police are notified, some of the neighborhood kids know about it and participate-one tries to tell his parents about it, but I think the times are the reason he doesn't,it's not all sexual abuse, but some of it is just,well I could barely watch it.

don't teach your children to 'respect' authority and listen to adults above all else,you could be putting them in more harms way then you could ever know, always keep communication open!

lvrofwolves said...

I agree with you mesodude, and have no problems with sex education being reinforced in any educational setting. Plus if you have good communication with your children, things talked about at school should be talked about at home, that can open doors to discussions about important matters. If a parent is uncomfortable bringing up the subject, maybe the kids won't be since they've talked about it at school, in front of 15-25 others. Being quiet is dangerous. Besides at school some kids find the courage to finally tell someone, a teacher, coach, councilor that they are being molested. how can that be a bad thing?