Keeping Children Safe From Sexual Abuse
Through no fault of their own, kids of any age can find themselves in a situation where an adult is treating them in an inappropriate way. Sexual abuse of children doesn’t always involve touching them. Someone might show them sexually explicit images or encourage them to engage in behavior inappropriate for their age.
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Teach Children To Speak Up
There’s no guaranteed method to prevent children from being sexually abused, but teaching them about boundaries and how to talk about their bodies can help them know when to speak up. Parents should explain to children early on that no one has the right to touch them. Assure them that they won’t be in trouble for speaking up about someone who makes them uncomfortable, and that they can always talk to you about what’s happening in their lives.
Recognizing The Signs Of Sexual Abuse
Recognizing the signs of sexual abuse is the first step in putting a stop to it. Sexual behavior inappropriate for their age or excessive talk about sexual topics may occur when a child is being abused, but other signs are more subtle.
Other warning signals may include:
- Sudden change in appetite
- Bed wetting, if the child has previously outgrown this behavior
- Refusing to remove clothing in front of others
- Difficulty walking or sitting, or unexplained bruising/bleeding
- Regressing to younger habits, like thumb sucking
Individually, these signs may not be indicative of sexual abuse. But if a child exhibits several of them, that is the time to start asking questions.
Stay Alert For Grooming Behaviors
Parents should also know how to recognize grooming behaviors used by adults who have inappropriate relationships with children. These behaviors may include taking a child off campus without permission, buying them expensive gifts, giving them money for no reason, or offering advice not suited to the child’s age.
Abusers often also groom others around them to undermine suspicion that they are behaving inappropriately. They do this by seeking accolades and flaunting them, such as professional awards or another recognition.