Common Indicators of Sexual Abuse

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Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:

  • Has difficulty walking or sitting.
  • Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities.
  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting.
  • Experiences a sudden change in appetite.
  • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior.
  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14.
  • Runs away.
  • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver.

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child's contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex.
  • Is secretive and isolated.
  • Is jealous or controlling with family members.

Author: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (DHHS)