Cases of sexual abuse against children and adolescents have reached increasingly worrying figures worldwide. In recent years, many organizations have taken it upon themselves to denounce this type of crime in order to help reduce the rates of child violence and prevent new victims.
According to data from the World Health Organization, known by the acronym WHO, 1 in 5 girls worldwide have been victims of abuse before the age of 18, while in the case of boys, the data show that 1 in 13 have suffered a similar episode.
What is most worrying is that these figures only show the cases that have been reported to the authorities. Most cases of child sexual abuse occur in the home, an environment in which the child should feel protected. These cases are usually kept silent by the victim, due to the shame he/she may feel, or even threats from the stalker.
para que así se pueda actuar rápidamente y denunciar la situación ante las autoridades competentes.
For this reason, it is important for adults to be aware of certain signs or ‘red flags’ that may indicate that a child is suffering from sexual abuse, so that prompt action can be taken to report the situation to the appropriate authorities.
What are the ‘red flags’ that may indicate a possible case of child sexual abuse?
When a child or adolescent suffers from some type of harassment or abuse that may be threatening his or her physical integrity, this can be easily noticed through certain behaviors and body signals to which one must be 100% alert.
Detecting a case of child abuse in time can bring justice to the case and prevent the psychological and physical damage the child is suffering from getting worse. These are the 3 red flags that will help you identify if a minor is being abused:
Physical signs on the minor’s body
Signs of abuse in a child can show up quickly in the child’s body, through different shapes and abnormal changes that may indicate that something is not right. Some of these signs may include the following:
- Pain when sitting or changes in gait.
- Injuries to the genital areas of the minor.
- Sudden changes in appetite.
- Loss of sleep and attention deficit.
In addition, alterations may also appear that may cause unusual desires in the child, such as impulses to harm or, in some cases, suicidal desires.
Changes in the child’s behavior
The child’s behavior and the way he/she relates to his/her social environment can also be seriously affected when suffering from some type of sexual abuse. Some of the red flags in this case may be the following:
- Aggressive and indifferent behaviors at home and with family members.
- Manifestations of fear toward a specific person.
- Sudden crying or mood swings when separated from the figure the child feels is protective.
This sign of abuse may also be noted when children demonstrate a fear of undressing or having their bodies touched during bathing.
Unusual and hypersexualized behaviors
On many occasions, minors are abused because they do not know how to distinguish between the inappropriateness of such acts, they tend to manifest hypersexualized behaviors in front of any type of person. Some of these may include the following:
- Eroticization that exceeds the curiosity about genitalia typical of early ages.
- Use of words inappropriate to the language of a child of his or her age.
- Drawings that attract attention because of their content.
Each of these signs may indicate that the child is possibly being sexually abused, therefore, they can be a clear warning sign for the people responsible for their care, so that they can act as soon as possible to curb the situation.
How to seek help in a case of child sexual abuse?
One of the most complicated issues for parents, or caregivers, is how to approach the child to determine if he or she is suffering some type of abuse that has influenced the sudden physical and behavioral changes the child is exhibiting.
In these cases, it is essential to have the help of a professional in cases of sexual abuse, who can discuss in an appropriate manner with the child and determine the appropriate course of action to take in the situation if the child is indeed being abused.
Remember that in the #YoDigoNoMas movement you can find all the assistance you need to act in a case of violence against minors. Be part of the change and join this movement.
Let’s raise our voices and fight together against child sexual abuse.