What are the signs of sexual abuse? December 08, 2007 7:12 AM
Has torn, stained, or bloody underclothing; Experiences pain or itching in the genital area; Has bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vagina, or anal regions; Has a sexually transmitted disease; Has swollen or red cervix, vulva, or perineum; Has semen around mouth or genitalia or on clothing; Is pregnant.10
Appears withdrawn or engaged in fantasy or infantile behavior; Begins wetting or soiling the bed; Has poor peer relationships; Is unwilling to participate in physical activities; Is engaging in delinquent acts; Reports sexual abuse; Engages in inappropriate sexualized behavior; Devalues sexual acts and acts sexually permissive; Fears a certain person or certain places; Gives an unusual or unexpected response when asked if he or she was touched by someone; Has an unreasonable fear of a physical exam; Creates drawings that show sexual acts or that seem overly focused on sexual body parts; More knowledge about sex than is normal for the child's age; Pain, bruising, or bleeding in the genitals; Seems preoccupied with or overly concerned about sexual acts and words; Runs away.2,10
Extremely protective or jealous of child; Encourages child to engage in prostitution or sexual acts; Has been sexually abused as a child; Is experiencing marital difficulties; Misuses alcohol or other drugs; Is frequently absent from home; Has difficulty in interacting emotionally with adults.10
Physical child abuse: types and warning signs
Physical child abuse is an adult’s physical act of aggression directed at a child that causes injury, even if the adult didn’t intend to injure the child. Such acts of aggression include striking a child with the hand, fist, or foot or with an object; burning the child with a hot object; shaking, pushing, or throwing a child; pinching or biting the child; pulling a child by the hair; cutting off a child’s air. Such acts of physical aggression account for between 15 and 20 percent of documented child abuse cases each year.
Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline, ways to make children learn to behave. But there’s a big difference between giving an unmanageable child a swat on the backside and twisting the child’s arm until it breaks. Physically abusive parents have issues of anger, excessive need for control, or immaturity that make them unable or unwilling to see their level of aggression as inappropriate.
Sometimes the very youngest children, even babies not yet born, suffer physical abuse. Because many chemicals pass easily from a pregnant woman’s system to that of a fetus, a mother’s use of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy can cause serious neurological and physiological damage to the unborn child, such as the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome; mothers can also pass on drugs or alcohol in breast milk. A woman who drinks or uses drugs when she knows she’s pregnant can be charged with child abuse in many jurisdictions if her baby is born with problems because of the substance use.
Another form of child abuse involving babies is shaken baby syndrome, in which a frustrated caregiver shakes a baby roughly to make the baby stop crying. The baby’s neck muscles can’t support the baby’s head yet, and the brain bounces around inside its skull, suffering damage that often leads to severe neurological problems and even death. While the person shaking the baby may not mean to hurt him, shaking a baby in a way that can cause injury is a form of child abuse.
An odd form of physical child abuse is Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, in which a parent causes a child to become ill and rushes the chlld to the hospital or convinces doctors that the child is sick. It’s a way for the parent to gain attention and sympathy, and its dangers to the child constitute child abuse.
Is corporal punishment the same as physical abuse?
Corporal punishment, the use of physical force with the intent of inflicting bodily pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control, used to be a very common form of discipline: most of us know it as spanking or paddling. And many of us were spanked as children without damage to body or psyche.
The widespread use of physical punishment, however, doesn’t make it a good idea. Most child-care experts have come to agree that corporal punishment sends the message to children that physical force is an appropriate response to problems or opposition. The level of force used by an angry or frustrated parent can easily get out of hand and lead to injury. Even if it doesn’t, what a child learns from being hit as punishment is less about why conduct is right or wrong than about behaving well — or hiding bad behavior — out of fear of being hit.
Signs of physical child abuse include visible marks of maltreatment, such as cuts, bruises, welts, or well-defined burns, and reluctance to go home. If you ask a child about how he or she got hurt and the child talks vaguely or evasively about falling off a fence or spilling a hot dish, think hard before you accept the child’s story at face value.
Sexual abuse in children: types and warning signs
Sexual abuse, which accounts for about 10 percent of child abuse, is any sexual act between an adult and a child. Such acts include:
* Behavior involving penetration – vaginal or anal intercourse and oral sex
* Fondling – Touching or kissing a child's genitals, making a child fondle an adult's genitals.
* Violations of privacy – Forcing a child to undress, spying on a child in the bathroom or bedroom.
* Exposing children to adult sexuality – Performing sexual acts in front of a child, exposing genitals, telling "dirty" stories, showing pornography to a child.
* Exploitation – Selling a child’s services as a prostitute or a performer in pornography.
The adult who sexually abuses a child or adolescent is usually someone the child knows and is suppo
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