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Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration

Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Four Clues about Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by Tammi A. Tannura -

Following up on the previous blog post, the following four clues or tips can help children recognize a potentially abusive situation.

Clue #1: No Good Reason
Someone looking at or touching a child's sexual body parts for no good reason is a
clue that what happened to the child is sexual abuse. Good reasons for looking at or
touching a child's sexual body parts include a physical exam by a doctor, a friend
smacking a child on the butt after a good play at soccer, a grandparent giving the child a bath, or a parent checking out an injury on a sexual body part.

Clue #2: Older, Bigger, Stronger
Sexual abuse can occur if an older or more powerful person tries to get a child to
do something they really don't want to do. If the abuser is the same age as the
child, but is bigger and stronger, this is a 'not OK touch' due to the power difference in
size and strength.

Clue #3: Uh-Oh Feeling

If a child senses there is something strange about a situation, this is sometimes
referred to as an 'uh-oh' feeling. Children may describe the 'uh-oh' feeling as
feeling scared, uncomfortable or unsure about what is happening. It's important
for children to know to trust their 'uh-oh'feeling.

Clue #4: Keeping Secrets
If a person touches or looks at a child's sexual body parts and then asks or tells
the child to keep it a secret, this should be a clue to the child that what happened
was 'not-OK touch'.

Children who are sexually abused are sometimes torn between the loyalty they feel for the abuser (if the abuser is a family member or friend), and the desire to tell someone what happened to them. The most important thing adults can do when a child confides in them that they have experienced 'not OK touch' is to BELIEVE the child.

Wilson, P. M. When Sex is the Subject: Attitudes and Answers for Young Children. ETR Associates. Santa Cruz, California.

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