Take heed of alarm bell warning signs of child abuse

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot.

The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice.

Look out for the following warning signs supplied by Eureka Olivier of Operation Bobbi Bear:

Abused children, especially sexually abused children, suffer from low self esteem and some from attention-seeking behaviour.

Also very important – if a child suddenly does not want to visit an aunt, uncle, pastor, teacher, close family friend or playschool, listen to your child and know something is wrong.

You shouldn’t let your child sleep over anywhere where you are not there to supervise.

Always have an open line of communication with your children so that they are confident to tell you if something is happening. Never scream and shout at a child who discloses – rather get some help immediately.

Keep calm. Remember that the child is terrified that you will be angry with them or blame them for what has happened. Children are almost always threatened with physical harm to themselves or their pets or families if they ever tell. Your child is risking a lot to speak. Stay calm and listen. Your first reaction will have a lot to do with how quickly and how well they recover.

Physical signs:

  • Difficulty walking or sitting.
  • Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes.
  • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area.
  • Pain, itching, or burning in genital area.
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections.

Behavioural signs:

  • Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact.
  • Exhibits signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents.
  • Self-harms.
  • Has sudden mood swings of rage, anger, fear or withdrawal.
  • Develops phobias.
  • Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades.
  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively.
  • Returns to regressive behaviours, such as thumb sucking.
  • Runs away from home or school.
  • Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role.
  • Nightmares or bed-wetting.
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviours.
  • Refuses to talk about a ‘secret’ he has with an older child or adult.
  • Suddenly has money or gifts.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits – loss of appetite or binges on food.
  • Engages in sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children to behave sexually.

 

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(Comments posted on this issue may be used for publication in the Sun)

  AUTHOR
Earl Baillache
Journalist

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