Q: What does the typical child abuse perpetrator look like?
A: There is not a typical profile of a perpetrator and you cannot pick out a sex offender in a crowd. People who may sexually abuse a child are 90 percent of the time someone the child knows. They come from all classes, races and religious backgrounds.
Q: If I suspect abuse, where can I go for help?
A: If you, your child or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, remember to tell them that it’s ok to tell. Sexual abuse is a crime and it’s important to seek professional help. Reporting and getting help from trained service providers is critical to healing.
Call your local law enforcement authorities immediately and your local Child Protective Service Provider. View our important links.
Q: How can I lower my child’s or any child’s risk of sexual assault?
A: 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable, meaning the most effective prevention happens before a child is harmed. Children are safer when parents and caregivers take the time to teach preventative tactics to their children and become educated about the warning signs of abuse. Parents and caregivers who make a commitment to speak up as soon as they have a concern play a crucial role in a child’s safety.
Q: I do not want to talk to my children about sexual abuse because I do not want to frighten them. Is this the right thing to do?
A: It is helpful for parents to keep in mind that you play a pivotal role in preventing child abuse. You can use our parent tool kit to help facilitate the conversation between you and your child. The kit provides helpful tips to help you speak with your children about abuse.
Q: How can children ever recover from such an experience?
A: Healing is possible through loving support. It takes time, but a supportive family response and professional intervention can help heal victims and their families.
What You Should Know
The first stage of child sexual abuse can be a series of subtle behaviors and statements, which is referred to as “grooming.” The grooming process allows predators to desensitize children, preparing them to be tricked into sexual abuse. Children most at risk for grooming are children who have experienced a degree of emotional, social or economic disadvantage.
Tactics of the Perpetrator
- Paying attention to a child who appears emotionally needy
- “Accidentally” or purposefully exposing themselves
- Coming out of the bath, wearing shorts that allow a view of the genitals, openly praising nudity as “normal,” etc.
- Giving gifts or money, taking the child places, providing alcohol or drugs
- Engaging in physical contact such as wrestling, tickling, pats on the butt, etc.
- Showing adult magazines or films, letting the child know he/she can come to them for sexual information or concerns
- Telling the child that they need to examine the child’s body for some reason
- Asking questions about the child’s sexual development, fantasies, masturbation habits, or giving the child more information about sex than is appropriate for the child’s age or developmental level
- Staring at the child or looking at his/her body in a way that makes him/her uncomfortable.
What to Look For
- Child does not want to be around certain adults
- Child suddenly acquires new unexplainable toys, money and clothes
- Regressive behaviors (thumb sucking, bed wetting)
- Fear of previously enjoyed people and places
- Engaging in acting out or delinquent behaviors
If you feel your child has become the victim of sexual abuse call your local authorities or Rape Crisis Center.
- RAINN http://www.rainn.org/
- Stop It Now http://www.stopitnow.org/
- The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence: www.fcasv.org
- Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute: www.childmolestationprevention.org
- ChildHelp: www.childhelpusa.org
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: www.childwelfare.gov
- Prevent Child Abuse America: www.preventchildabuse.org
- US Department of Health and Human Services: www.hhs.gov
- Florida Department of Health: www.doh.state.fl.us
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: www.missingkids.com
- Darkness to Light: www.d2l.org
- The National Children’s Alliance: www.nationalchildrensalliance.org