Symptoms of sexual harassment in a child

The data is alarming. Even 9 percent. children from Warsaw were persuaded by adults to have sex. 4 percent had sexual contacts with adults - according to the analysis of the Foundation "We give children strength". These data, however, are imprecise as they do not reflect the national scale of the problem. Reason? Usually only the victim and the torturer know about harassment. However, there are ways to find out if a child is at risk of sexual abuse. So what symptoms should you look for? How do I know if my child is being abused?

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Child abuse by adults is a problem that is increasingly coming to light. This usually happens by accident, although young people and teenagers signal violence much earlier. They usually do it unconsciously. Why is it crucial to observe your baby unobtrusively?

- Unfortunately, recognizing that a child is being molested is not easy. All symptoms, such as bedwetting, withdrawal from social life, sadness and abdominal pain, are not characteristic symptoms. However, if there are sudden changes in the functioning of a child, e.g. a few-year-old stops being interested in what he has been interested in so far, you should definitely watch him closely and talk to him - says Jolanta Zmarzlik, psychologist at the Empowering Children Foundation.

1. Sexual harassment - what to look for?

Children who have experienced sexual abuse by an adult tend to change in several ways. Detecting this fact is extremely difficult, because usually the only people who know about violence are the victim and the tormentor, and the nature of the act is hidden. All this means that the person who suspects that a child is being abused has only the suspicions, not the evidence.

However, if he knows the child's family history and looks at the behavior of a few-year-old, he can read a real cry for help.

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There are six types of symptoms in a child's behavior that could be indicative of sexual abuse. These are:

  • child eroticization,
  • emotional problems,
  • self-destructive behavior,
  • psychosomatic complaints,
  • neurotic symptoms,
  • school problems.

2. Eroticization of the child

Children who experience sexual abuse tend to be very provocative and seductive, and the behavior is inappropriate for the age of the child. Early masturbation appears, also inadequate to the child's development. Psychologists of sexually abused children also notice sexual aggression towards their peers, young children also engage their friends in sexual games.

- Children 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds, if molested, often faithfully recreate the behavior they experienced. So they can behave vulgarly, pretend that they initiate sexual acts - says Jolanta Zmarzlik.

Playing pretend oral intercourse is also a disturbing signal.

3. Emotional problems

Strong guilt resulting from the child feeling responsible for the offender's behavior, the feeling of being "bad", a feeling of stigma. A sexually abused child experiences a whole range of difficult emotions and feelings. They are the ones that most often are a silent cry for help.

Unfortunately, preschoolers and students who have experienced sexual violence are also often closed in on themselves. They feel ashamed, but at the same time may imply that they are hiding a secret.

- These youngest children sometimes reveal these secrets completely unknowingly. We call it "test disclosures" - says Jolanta Zmarzlik. - So maybe when playing in kindergarten, ask a question: "ma'am, do other children also sleep with their dads?". This should be the first warning sign for the teacher.

4. Self-destructive behavior, psychosomatic and neurotic ailments

Self-harm, suicide attempt, addiction, abdominal pain, nausea. While these symptoms and behaviors may indicate other kinds of problems, they also occur in sexually abused children. The most extreme version is child prostitution and eating disorders.

Of the neurotic disorders in molested children, psychologists note secondary bedwetting, sleep disturbances and nightmares.

Children's drawings will also be a manifestation of nervous and sexual abuse problems. If they show sexual acts or reproductive organs, it is a sign that the child may have experienced sexual abuse.

All these symptoms, however important they are, do not constitute evidence of child molestation. - The only measurable and observable symptoms of abuse are pregnancy and venereal diseases - sums up Jolanta Zmarzlik.

Tags:  Preschooler Family Rossne