Child Sexual Assault
Parents are important. As a parent, you are your child’s primary connection to the world, and through you, children learn about the world. Everyday you teach your child about life – the importance of school, exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, how to brush their teeth, picking up toys, or how to safely cross the street. The list is endless. When it comes to talking to your child about sexual assault and sexual development, you are equally important.
- 1 in 3 females will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18
- 1 in 6 males will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18
- 93% of the time, the abuser is someone the person knows.
These statistics are pretty familiar, but it is always difficult to learn that your own child has been sexually assaulted. We often think that we “should have known” – but in reality it is often very difficult to predict that an assault will occur or know when one has occurred. Many offenders seem to be nice or trustworthy. Often times the offender is someone you could never imagine harming a child.
The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children
Children who live with domestic violence face increased risk. The exposure to traumatic events, risk of being directly injured, and the experience of seeing someone you love injured, can be painful for children. An advocate can help you talk to your child about what they have experienced, and help you to help your child feel empowered. It is also important to include children in safety planning. If you are concerned about your child’s well being, or emotional health, an advocate can work with you to assure your child is supported. Some children experience serious problems from repeated exposure to violence. If you observe the following in your child, talk to an advocate:
- Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Problems. Higher levels of aggression, anger, hostility, disobedience, fear, anxiety, withdrawal, depression, low self-esteem, and poor peer, sibling, and social relationships.
- Cognitive and Attitudinal Problems. Lower cognitive functioning, poor school performance, lack of conflict resolution skills, limited problem-solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege..
- Long-Term Problems. Higher levels of adult depression, trauma symptoms, and increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships.
Links & Resources for Parents
Violence can lead to trauma, and getting help to heal from trauma can come from many resources. Aside from Advocacy and Support Groups, you may want to talk to school officials, therapists, or supportive family and friends. Below are some links that might be useful: