Frequently Asked Questions
- Sexual Abuse or Assault of Children
WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE?
Child sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child or adolescent under the age of 17 by an adult (or another child at least two years older than the victim) for the purpose of the offender's own sexual gratification.
Child or adolescent sexual abuse can be physical or non-physical. Non-physical sexual abuse includes:
Exhibitionism (indecent exposure)
Voyeurism (peeping in doors/windows)
Physical sexual abuse of a child or adolescent can be non-violent or violent and includes:
Fondling of a child's genitals
Non-violent Sexual Intercourse
Violent acts, such as rape
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
It is your legal responsibility to report suspected cases to a Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. You do not have to prove the abuse, only report and initiate an investigation. You do not have to give your name.
Be aware that child sexual abuse is not an isolated problem. It can happen to any child regardless of age, race, sex, or socioeconomic class.
Be aware that 85% of all reported child sexual abuse cases are committed by relatives or close friends of the victim's family.
Don't wait to talk to your child about "bad touches". By the age of 10, one in four girls and one in five boys will have been sexually molested.
Teach children assertiveness and that adults are not always right.
Teach children the names of the parts of the body and which parts are private.
Protecting Our Children
WHO MOLESTS CHILDREN?
Child molesters come from all socioeconomic classes. Many are respected citizens in their community.
According to most studies, offenders start molesting children before they are 30 years old; therefore, it is not just the "dirty old man" that your child should be cautious of.
WHO ARE THE VICTIMS?
Most experts agree that boys and girls have an equal chance of being sexually abused, although some children are more likely to become victims than others. A child who is easily controlled by adults is an easy target.
Most molesters are known and trusted by their victims and use threats or rewards,not violence, to manipulate children into cooperating.
WHY DO INDIVIDUALS MOLEST CHILDREN?
There is no simple reason to explain why some adults sexually abuse children. Through studies of known molesters, researchers have uncovered some characteristics common to many offenders.
According to a study done by Dr. Nicholas Groth, at least 80% of sexual offenders were sexually abused or exposed to sexual abuse of other family members when they were children.
It is rare that a molester will stop after one victim or one incident. Many molesters are responsible for abusing large numbers of children. Some studies show averages between 50 and 100 victims per offender.
Many sexual offenders were under the influence of alcohol/drugs at the time the offense was committed. Very few offenders (less than 5%) are diagnosed as being mentally challenged or psychotic.
Many child abusers have trouble dealing with other adults. Some offenders have never had a "normal" male/female relationship, even though they may be married.
WHAT IF YOUR CHILD IS MOLESTED?
If a child tells you that he/she had been molested, believe him/her. A child rarely lies about being molested.
If a child tells you that he/she has been molested, control your temper. Reassure the child that you are not angry at him/her. They are probably already dealing with guilt feelings, especially if the offender is a relative or close family friend.
Do not blame the child for what happened. Cooperation is not the same as consent. A child doesn't have the mental capacity to consent to sexual interactions. Fear can keep a child from telling someone for a long time.
Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage your children to ask questions and talk about problems.
Sometimes, good touches, like hugs, can feel bad. If someone wants to touch you in a way you don't like, scream NO!
Some adults don't know they shouldn't touch children on their private parts.
Adults that touch children on their private parts need help. Not all adults touch children in a bad way.
If someone touches you in a way you don't like, don't be afraid to tell someone. The person you tell can stop the bad touches from happening. If that person doesn't listen to you, tell another person until someone listens to you.
Contact our Crisis Center of Southeast Texas or a rape crisis center near you for support services for you and your child.