Parents’ Guide

What is child sexual abuse? 

(Information can be found in Spanish here, Aqui es un Panfleto Para Los Padres)

Child sexual abuse is anything that can refer to the following:

  • Forcing or coercing a child into a sexual activity
  • Sexual contact between a child and another person in which bribes or trickery are used so the child will participate
  • Any sexual contact between an adult and a child.

Some sexual abuse can be physically violent but most is not. This could include:

  • Sexual talks
  • Flashing of body parts
  • Exposure to sexual acts
  • Peeping activities
  • Child pornography
  • Encouraging or promoting child prostitution

 Who are offenders? 

Offenders come from every walk of life. Their economic, ethnic, social and educational backgrounds don’t make the offender. They can’t be picked out of a group by their appearance because they don’t fit a stereotype.

  • 80% of all child sexual abuse happens by a person the child knows and it could be someone the child loves and trusts.
  • Most abusers of children are heterosexual men.
  • Abusers are often married and have children.
  • Abusers will prey on both young boys and girls.
  • Children can sexually abuse other children.

 Effects of sexual abuse on a child and how long it lasts

After an abuse you may notice the following behavior changes:

  • Heightened fear or anxiety
  • Increased tearfulness or crying
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
    • Fear of going to bed
    • Fear of sleeping alone
    • Nightmares
    • Bedwetting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritable
  • No patience
  • Temper tantrums
  • Difficulty at school

Symptoms usually last a few weeks, but can last longer. A child will react based on how the family and friends around them handles the situation. A child may recover more quickly from the situation the more support and love he/she feels.