Guide to Addressing Sexual Abuse with Your Kids

As your children grow from toddlers to teens to adults, the way they explore their bodies and comprehend sexual issues evolves.

Sexual Development

In general:

  • Preschool children may rub, show and touch private parts.
  • Young children may start mimicking common dating behaviors like kissing and holding hands.
  • School-aged children, on the other hand, will begin intentionally touching themselves and playing games with their peers

Understanding the sexual development of your child will help you determine if their actions indicate potential problems or not.

For in-depth information about sexual development and behavior in children, click here.

Sexual Behavior

It’s true that talking to your child regularly about their body will make the child more likely to tell if someone touches their body. However, it is not a guarantee.

Most sexual behavior is a natural part of childhood development, but there are certain characteristics that point to sexual behavior problems.

According to a report from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the following signs may indicate problems. Take note when:

  • A child’s sexual behavior seems “too old” or “too young” for the age they are developmentally
  • A behavior involves threats, force, or aggression
  • The behavior involves inappropriate or harmful use of sexual body parts
  • Children of widely different ages or abilities are involved in behavior
  • The behavior is associated with strong emotional reactions such as childlike anger or anxiety
  • The behavior interferes with typical childhood interests and activities

Monitor your children for signs of sexual behavior problems, keeping in mind their developmental stage as you decide how you should respond.

For examples of sexual behavior problems and treatment options, click here.

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