6 EASY TO SPOT SIGNS THAT A CHILD IS BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED
How can you tell when a child has or is being sexually abused? Do you know the signs to look out for?
Perhaps, you are a survivor of sexual abuse in the past, were you able to inform your parents or teachers? Did you find it difficult to express your feelings?
You will agree with me that children ought to be given sex education the moment they can respond to call, as it would breed trust and freedom of speech on matters a child might have trouble communicating with their parents, especially now that the social media always have a heart breaking news on child abuse. Take a look at Nancy’s story.
When Nancy was 6 years old, she loved to play “Daddy and Mummy” with her toys, especially her Barbie doll and a teddy bear. Her mother usually laughs when she watch her demonstrate how daddy takes care of mummy through her toys until one day, Nancy acted a role that was not in the script, a role her mother found disturbing.
The laugh disappeared when she drew closer to find Nancy had mounted the teddy bear on the Barbie doll. ‘Open your legs, I want to see something’ she voiced the teddy bear, “Uncle Ben, no” the Barbie doll replied.
Nancy’s mother stood in shock as she watched her demonstrate a forceful sexual encounter her daughter had with her husband’s brother who has been living with them for 2 years now.
Like Nancy, one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria has experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Boys and girls can be victims but girls are usually abused. Six out of ten children experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18, with half experiencing physical violence, according to UNICEF.
This mind boggling fact means that you have been abused as a child or you know a child who has been sexually abused. To be sexually abused means you or a child has been;
- Forced to remove his/ her clothes or masturbate
- Urged to perform sexual activities while it’s been recorded
- Engaged to watch pornography or witnessed a sexual activity
- Touched inappropriately on the genitals whether wearing clothes or not
- Forced to touch, lick and play with the genital of someone
- Penetrated using objects through the anus, mouth or vagina
- Penetrated by a person’s genitalia (private part) either through the anus, mouth or vagina
Sexual abusers are those who perpetrate this act, most of them are males but females also abuse children, they are usually older in age.
It has been found that 9 out of 10 children are familiar or are related to their abusers. The act is often carried out in the child’s or abuser’s home.
WHO ARE THE CHILDREN AT RISK OF SEXUAL ABUSE?
- Children who are physically or mentally challenged; They are 4 times more likely to be abused especially if they have difficulty with communicating or mobility.
- Children who have been abused before; They are also vulnerable especially when the abuser is close to their family and they are unable to report due to fear from the abuser’s threat or fear no one would believe.
- Children who are been neglected; Neglect can occur when parents are too busy or disregard complaints made by their kids.
- Children who use the Internet; Children on social media are at risk of being targeted and made to commit sexual acts if unsupervised.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT A CHILD EXHIBITS WHEN HE OR SHE HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED?
Here are 6 easy to spot signs that a child has been sexually abused;
1. Changes in Behavior;
These changes include;
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Bed wetting
- Acting withdrawn from activities he/she enjoys
- Clinging and
- Having nightmares regularly
2. Physiological problems;
The child may develop health conditions and symptoms namely;
- Complaining of pain in the abdomen frequently
- Soreness on and around the genital and anal area (Private Part)
- Getting pregnant
- Sexually transmitted infection
3. Avoiding the Abuser;
The child may seem shocked or afraid when he/she sees a particular person. The child may even hide away or try to avoid spending time with the person.
4. Difficulty at School;
The child may start to have problems with studying and concentrating. He\she may not find extracurricular activities interesting to participate in and grades may start to fall.
5. Giving Hints;
He/she may start giving clues without revealing details that an abuse is ongoing. Examples include pointing to the private part area, pointing to a particular individual consistently, and keeping quiet when the abuser walks in.
6. Sexually Inappropriate Attitude;
He/she may start using sexually explicit slang or behave in a sexual manner like. Click here to find out sexual behaviors in children that are considered to be abnormal.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WHEN YOU OBSERVE THESE SIGNS?
When you observe these signs, do not panic. What you need to do is contact the DSVRT in your state of residence (DOMESTIC SEXUAL AND VIOLENCE RESPONSE TEAM).
In Lagos State, the DSVRT is an assembly of specialized service providers and officials that respond as a team and in a sensible manner to the numerous needs of survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse by providing, medical, legal, emergency assistance, psychotherapy and psychological and psycho social support.
Below are tips recommended by the Lagos State DSVRT;
Watch Video CORONAVIRUS VIGILANCE ON SEXUAL ABUSE
Advice on Child Sexual Abuse
I hope you found this information resourceful, for more content on LovoHealth, click here.