Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is a worldwide concern. It is an insidious, persistent, and serious problem that keeps happening over and over. Child sexual abuse or child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities regardless of the outcome.

Child sexual abuse can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life. Indicators and effects include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self-esteem, somatization, sleep disturbances and dissociative and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder. While children may exhibit regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking or bedwetting, the strongest indicator of sexual abuse is sexual acting out and inappropriate sexual knowledge and interest.

The first step to protecting children from sexual abuse is educating parents about the nature of the problem. Awareness about child abuse, what it is and who commits it, opens the door to some simple steps parents can take to protect children. No one has at stake or a more vested interest in protecting children than the people who gave them life. Awareness, education, and responsible parenting give a child the best tools for her or his defense and the child may be more likely to tell an adult if something happens.

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