Child sexual abuse predominantly occurs in domestic settings, however, it can also take place in schools and other social environments. Sexual abuse is often hidden and can be difficult to uncover. But, there are precautions that we, as adults, can take to keep our children safe.
Educating children to identify and respond to sexual abuse is a vital step in extinguishing it. An open conversation with your child can help them grasp concepts of body ownership and inappropriate behaviour.
You can also highlight the dangers of the Internet and what websites aren’t suitable for them. Install parental blocks on your computers for extra security. Additionally, conduct background checks of child minders or carers to ensure that a trusted adult is looking after your child. You should also confirm what safeguarding policies their extracurricular groups have in place to protect your child.
A child that is being sexually abused may show signs of distress, anxiety or aggression. They may even exhibit unusual behavioural traits or use sexual language that is inappropriate for their age. Other warning signs include: suffering from nightmares, being particularly secretive or being frightened to spend time with a particular person.
Recognisable physical symptoms can involve unusual discharge, anal or vaginal soreness and bruises and marks on the body. Sexual abuse can have a detrimental effect on children, often triggering depression, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies and post-traumatic stress. For further information and advice or if you are concerned for a child’s safety, visit the NSPCC website. If you believe there is an immediate danger, contact the police.