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Signs of child sexual abuse and what to do if you see them

Child sexual abuse is a serious problem that affects many children in California. Victims of abuse, however, don’t always come forward. Feelings of shame, guilt and fear can make it difficult for children to tell others about what has happened to them.

For parents, teachers, coaches and others who have children in their lives, this highlights the importance of being able to recognize signs of sexual abuse. Knowing what to look for can help put an end to sexual abuse and ensure the child gets the help they need.

8 signs that a child may be abused

While different children may display different warning signs of sexual abuse, the California Department of Education notes that there are a few common indicators that a child may be sexually abused:

  1. The child runs away from home.
  2. The child behaves in a seductive manner.
  3. The child prefers not to change clothes in front of other children or adults.
  4. The child is interested in or knows about sexual acts that are inappropriate to their age.
  5. The child goes out of their way to avoid a certain person without a clear reason why.
  6. The child has a sexual transmitted disease at a young age (under 14).
  7. The child shows discomfort while sitting or walking.
  8. The child does not want to join in physical activities.

What to do if you suspect a child was sexually abused

If you suspect that a child is being abused, it is important to report it to the proper authorities, which may be the police department, a county welfare department, a county probation department or your county’s Child Protective Services. While such reporting is mandatory for certain adults who work with children, including teachers and school administrators, for others it is simply the right thing to do.

It is important to know that your identity as well as the report itself will remain confidential if you report an instance of abuse. If your profession requires you to report suspected abuse and you do so in the proper manner, you cannot be held liable in a civil case. You will also have immunity if a criminal case arises from the report.

Reporting suspected abuse helps children when they need it most. It can also prevent an abuser from harming other children in the future. If you notice signs of abuse in a child you know, it is important to speak up.

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