Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse
Teach Your Child
- Talk to your child daily and listen to what they have to say.
- Teach your child about good touches and bad touches.
- Teach your child the proper names for the different parts of their body; including "the private parts".
- Teach your child that NO ONE is to touch them in their private areas without good reason or do anything which might make them feel uncomfortable.
- Without frightening your child, tell them that some adults might try to touch them in an inappropriate manner; even someone they might know.
- Tell them not to keep secrets away from their parents, especially secrets about inappropriate touching, even if someone has threatened to harm them or their parents.
Watch For Behavior Changes or Indicators
- Significant, rather sudden changes in school performance.
- Inappropriate knowledge of sexual matters for the child's age.
- Fears and/or phobias.
- Tendencies not to want to be left alone with a particular person.
- Regression to acting younger than the child's chronological age.
- Wetting the bed.
- Masturbation or excessive masturbation.
- Sore, discolored or swollen genitals.
- Pain or discomfort when urinating.
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Bleeding or discharge from the vagina or rectum.
- Stained undergarments.
- Running away from home.
- Self destructive behavior.
- NOTE: In and of themselves, the above list cannot be considered as conclusive evidence that your child has been abused. They must be taken into consideration with other factors as well.
If Your Child Discloses Sexual Abuse
- DO NOT panic or overreact to the disclosure.
- As calmly as possible, listen to what your child is saying and ask them what happened.
- DO NOT criticize your child for what has happened. It is NOT his/her fault.
- Believe your child because numerous studies have show that children rarely lie about sexual abuse.
- Praise your child for telling you what happened.
- Tell your child that you will be with them through this experience.
- Notify your local law enforcement agency and the Child Abuse Hotline.
- If the situation warrants, seek medical assistance for your child from a medical professional who is trained to recognize and deal with sexual abuse.
- Leesburg Police Department - (352) 787-2121
- Florida Abuse Hotline/Registry - 800-96-ABUSE
In general, investigations involving child sexual abuse are investigated by law enforcement and the Department of Children and Families. The roles of the police and the Child Protective Investigators (CPI) are different.
The role of the CPI is to investigate the allegation of child sexual abuse to determine whether or not it can be verified and , if so, to what extent protection of the child might be necessary.
The role of law enforcement is to determine whether or not a criminal offense has occurred. They will gather and preserve any physical evidence, attempt to identify any suspects and upon conclusion of the investigation, arrest the offender(s) provided there is sufficient evidence to do so.
Street-proofing Your Child
The six most important points to discuss with your child are:
- An unattended (latchkey) child is at risk. With the necessity of two incomes today, there may be times when parents don't arrive home on time. Arrange alternatives with your child should you become delayed. Have him/her go to a relative's or neighbor's home until you arrive. If you have pre-arranged to meet someplace and then become delayed, direct your child to an alternative location such as a large store or even to remain at school until you arrive.
- It is not just strangers your child needs to be careful of. In 85 to 90 percent of cases involving child sexual abuse, the abuser is known to the child.
- Kids can say NO to touches that make them feel uncomfortable. Tell your child it is wrong for an adult or teen to touch them in their private areas without good reason such as medical care or bathing.
- Teach your child the correct names for the private parts of their body. Without the proper names of body parts such as penis, vagina, breast and anus, it is very difficult to talk about child sexual abuse.
- Discuss who your child can go to for help. Block parents, neighbors, nearby relatives, the police, teachers or other school officials.
- Play "what if" games with your child. "What if the babysitter asks you to undress you can play a "special game" that would be a secret?" Guide your child to the appropriate answer.
Things To Remember
To learn about ways to protect your child while online, click here.
- Children seldom lie about matters of sexual abuse. BELIEVE YOUR CHILD. Let them know that if sexual abuse occurs, they will not be blamed. Tell your child to NEVER keep a secret about inappropriate touching.
- Approach the subject of child sexual abuse in the same honest manner you would any other subject. If you open the subject for discussion, your child will learn you are an "askable" parent. Your child's ability to understand sexual abuse will change as he/she grows. Information about child sexual exploitation and abuse should be part of every child's basic safety information. Prevent child sexual abuse by EDUCATING yourself and your children.
For more information, please contact:
Leesburg Police Department
Criminal Investigations Division
115 E. Magnolia St
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 728-9862 (office)
(352) 728-6343 (fax)