Child Sexual Abuse Warning Signs

If you’re worried that your child is being sexually abused, look for the following possible warning signs:

  1. Changes in behavior: withdrawal, fearfulness, crying without provocation
  2. Night sweats with screaming or shaking, and nightmares
  3. Regression to more infantile behavior: bedwetting, thumb sucking
  4. Loss of appetite or other eating problems
  5. Poorly explained injuries: bruises, rashes, cuts, genital pain or bleeding
  6. Sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person
  7. Unusual interest in or knowledge of sexually related matters; inappropriate expression of affection

“They often won’t tell you straight up that something is happening to them, because they’ve been threatened, they may be ashamed, or they may not want to talk to you about it,” “Think about these warning signs and ask questions. Create a dialogue if you’re worried about what’s going on with a child.” source: Dr. Phil


More Signs of Sexual Abuse

There are various lists of possible physical and behavioral indicators of child sexual abuse, some of which are:

  • Waking up during the night sweating, screaming or shaking with nightmares.
  • Masturbating excessively.
  • Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys, and pets.
  • Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement, or exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Having symptoms indicating evidence of physical traumas to the genital or anal area.
  • Beginning wetting the bed.
  • Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging.
  • Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location.
  • Developing frequent unexplained health problems.
  • Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets.
  • Having unexplained periods of panic, which may be flashbacks from the abuse.
  • Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved.
  • Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors.
  • Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person.
  • Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves.
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change.
  • Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality.


For more informaion and to learn additional warning signs, visit these Web sites:

– ProtectKids

– Stop It Now!


– American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

– American Psychological Association

– National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

– Medline Plus – Child abuse – sexual

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