Warning Signs That A Child May Have Been Sexually Abused
There are a number of signals a parent or caregiver can look for, that may indicate a child has experienced sexual abuse.
No one particular sign is evidence of sexual abuse, but a number of indicators, when seen together mean a parent or caregiver should seek help.
These indicators include:
Acting out in an inappropriate sexual way with toys or objects
Nightmares, sleeping problems
Becoming withdrawn or very clingy
Becoming unusually secretive
Sudden unexplained personality changes, mood swings and seeming insecure
Regressing to younger behaviours, e.g. bed-wetting
Unaccountable fear of particular places or people
Outbursts of anger
Changes in eating habits
New adult words for body parts and no obvious source
Talk of a new, older friend and unexplained money or gifts
Self-harm (cutting, burning or other harmful activities)
Physical signs, such as, unexplained soreness or bruises around genitals or mouth, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy
Not wanting to be alone with a particular child or young person.
The Police and Oranga Tamariki are the government agencies that handle allegations of abuse. Their contact phone numbers are listed in the front section of the telephone directory. For more information about reporting, click here.
To get more information or support you could call a Sexual Violence Support agency near you, click here.