A threat to our children

What is child sexual abuse? - It is sexual activity with a child by a family member or other caretaker. Sexual abuse can be:
Physical Nonphysical

A child may be sexually abused by:

Incidents or abuse may occur just once or be repeated many times over several years.

Why learn about child sexual abuse? - Because it is more common than many people think, and its effects can be devastating. Child sexual abuse hurts:

The Child

Victims of sexual abuse may be girls or boys of any age. The abuse can cause serious and long-lasting psychological harm.

Family and friends of the victim

Learning that a loved one has been sexually abused can be very painful. If friends or family members are involved in the abuse, they may be covering up the problem and feeling guilty.


Sexual abuse may lead to shattered families, crime and other problems.

Sexual abusers don't look different than anyone else. Abusers come from every kind of community. The reasons people abuse are complex and the causes of sexual abuse vary from person to person. Abuse is often the result of emotional problems. People with low self-esteem or a need to control may sexually abuse a child in order to feel powerful and in control. Parents with sexual problems may turn to their children to meet their needs. Abuse may start as an impulse. At first it may be a response to a stressful event or situation. But it can develop into a pattern that involves serious sexual disorders.

Alcohol or other drugs may play a part, the use of alcohol or other drugs can reduce self-control, making child sexual abuse more likely. There may be a history of abuse, Many abusers were themselves abused as children. The pattern of abuse can be passed from one generation to the next.


The abuser may try to control the victim by various means, including:

Afterwards, the abuser may make the child promise not to tell.

The effects of sexual abuse on a child can be serious and long-lasting.

Help prevent child sexual abuse

Be sure to:

Teach children what to do if approached or abused. Tell them to:

If you think a child has been sexually abused, here is how you can help:

What you can do about sexual abuse:

As a parent:

As a member of the community:


You can help protect children from sexual abuse:

Find out about the causes, extent and effects of sexual abuse.

Teach children about sexual abuse and how to take precautions.

Be alert for signs of sexual abuse in children you know.

Give emotional support to a child who has been sexually abused.

Give your support to programs that are working to prevent abuse.


Excerpts from the 1995 Channl L. Bete Co., booklet: Sexual Abuse - A threat to our children.

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