Info for Parents

Because most children won't tell when they have been sexually abused, it is important for parents and other adults to recognize the behaviors that may indicate that a child has been sexually assaulted.



Look For These Signs:

  • Noticeable change in the child's feelings, awareness of and behavior towards sexuality
  • Sudden interest in or knowledge about sex, and/or strong reactions to physical contact - withdrawal or excessive sexual play; the child may simulate sexual behavior or may actually engage in sexual behavior with other children
  • Regressing to early childhood behaviors; tese behaviors may include abrupt and significant negative changes in sleeping habits, eating, bowel and bladder control
  • Negative changes in school performance: disciplinary problems, avoiding assignments, and /or change in social relationships/behaviors: withdrawal or aggression
  • Signs of emotional stress: worry, fear, (over) sensitivity, nervousness, irritability, anger and depression; there may also be physical or health problems brought on by stress



What to do:

  • Remain calm and unemotional; if you get upset when the child tells you what happened, it might re-traumatize the child
  • Be sure to tell the child that he or she did the right thing by telling you what happened
  • Tell the child that you are sorry about what happened to her or him
  • Tell the child that this unfortunately has happened to many other children
  • Reassure the child that having kept this a secret does not make her or him a bad person
  • Guilt about the abuse is a common feeling for children so it is important to reassure them over and over that it was not their fault; explain that the person who did this to them has a problem and needs to get help; that person's behavior was against the law