Could My Child Be Sexually Abusing Other Children???
We are becoming increasingly aware of the risk of sexual abuse that some adults present to our children and there is a growing understanding that this risk lies mostly within families and communities. But very few people realise that other children can sometimes present a risk. A third of those who have sexually abused a child are themselves under the age of 18.
This is an especially difficult issue to deal with, partly because it is hard for us to think of children doing such things, but also because it is not always easy to tell the difference between normal sexual exploration and abusive behaviour. Children, particularly in the younger age groups, may engage in such behaviour with no knowledge that it is wrong or abusive. For this reason, it may be more accurate to talk about sexually harmful behaviour rather than abuse.
Why do some children sexually harm others?
The reasons why children sexually harm others are complicated and not always obvious. Some of them have been emotionally, sexually or physically abuse themselves, while others may have witnessed physical or emotional violence at home. For some children it may be a passing phase, but the harm they cause to other children can be serious and some will go on to abuse children into adulthood if they do not receive help. For this reason it is vital to seek advice and help as soon as possible.
Age appropriate sexual behaviour
We all know that children pass through different stages of development as they grow, and that their awareness and curiosity about sexual matters change as they pass from infancy into childhood and then through puberty to adolescence.
Each child is an individual and will develop in his or her own way. However, there is a generally accepted range of behaviours linked to a child’s age and developmental stage. Sometimes these will involve some exploration with other children of similar age. It can be difficult to tell the difference between age appropriate sexual exploration and warning signs of harmful behaviour. Occasionally we may need to explain to children why we would prefer them not to continue with a particular behaviour. This is a chance to talk with them about keeping themselves and others safe and to let them know that you are someone who will listen.
It is important to recognise that while people from different backgrounds have different expectations about what is acceptable behaviour in children, sexual abuse happens across all races and cultures.
Warning signs of sexually harmful behaviour
One of the hardest things for parents to discover is that their child may have sexually harmed or abused another child.
In this situation, denial, shock and anger are normal reactions. If it is not responded to quickly and sensitively, the effect on the whole family can be devastating.
For this reason it is vital to contact someone for advice about what to do as soon as you suspect that something is wrong.
The positive message is that early help for the child or young person and their family can make a real difference.
Evidence suggests that the earlier children can get help, the more change there is of preventing them moving on to more serious behaviour.
It is important to be alert to the early warning signs that something is going wrong.
If you are in this situation, remember that you are not alone.
Many other parents have been through similar experiences, and, as a result, the child and family found the help they needed are were able to rebuild their lives.
Do you know a child or adolescent who:
- Seeks out the company of younger children and spends an unusual amount of time in their company?
- Takes younger children to ‘secret’ places or hideaways or plays ‘special’ games with them (e.g. doctor and patient, removing clothing etc) especially games unusual to their age?
- Insists on hugging or kissing a child when the child does not want to?
- Tells you they do not want to be alone with a child or becomes anxious when a particular child comes to visit?
- Frequently uses aggressive or sexual language about adults or children?
- Shows sexual material to younger children?
- Makes sexually abusive telephone calls?
- Shares alcohol or drugs with younger children or teens?
- Views child pornography on the internet or elsewhere?
- Exposes his or her genitals to younger children?
- Forces sex on another adolescent or child?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should talk to the child or young person and seek advice.
What you can do if you see warning signs or suspect that your child is sexually harming another child, or thinking about doing so?
Have a family safety plan :
Don’t wait for ‘proof’ of child sexual abuse.
It is very disturbing to suspect that your child, or a child you know, may be sexually harming someone.
It is so much easier to dismiss such thoughts and put them down to imagination. You may also be worried about the consequences of taking action.
But help is available and it is better to talk the situation over with someone at the time, rather to discover later that you were right to be concerned.
Remember you are not alone. Thousands of people every year discover that someone in their family or circle of friends has been abused or has abused a child.
If you are worried that your son or daughter may be sexually harming another child, or if you suspect that your child is being abused act now.
Action can lead to abuse being prevented, and children who are being abused receiving protection and help to recover.
It can also lead to the abuser getting effective treatment to stop abusing and grow up as a safer member of our community. We need to get support for ourselves too.
You are a good, kind and caring parent if you are reading this article. You were drawn to the information presented here. If your child is sexually abusing other children, you will have the courage to find help for the offender and the victim. Juvenile sexual offenders can change much easier than those who have allowed this inappropriate action to become a habit or obsession.
Lastly, as a parent you are raising the responsible and respectable children and its our duty to protect out children which may harm them in future . Don’t feel ashamed about it, make sure you ask for help and support , as they are available to you .
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