If you suspect your child or someone else’s child has been a victim of sexual abuse then you must report it to the police or social services. If your child or a child you know discloses any form of sexual abuse,.
Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity with a child by an adult, or by another child where there is no consent or consent is not possible; or by another child who has power over the child. By this definition, it is possible for a child to be sexually abused by another child who is older or younger than the victim.
Parents should be aware that nowadays teens and older children are known to sexually assault other teens and children – some considerably younger than themselves.
Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, showing a child pornographic materials, placing the child’s hand on one’s genitals, touching a child’s genitals, and/or penetration of any orifice of a child’s body (mouth, vagina, anus) with a penis, finger, or an “proxy” object of any sort. Penetration does not have to occur for it to be sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse can take a number of different forms, including:
- Enticing or forcing a child to engage in fondling, masturbation, oral or anal intercourse or sexual intercourse.
- Making a child observe or act out inappropriate sexual behavior
- Showing a child pornographic books, videos or photographs or engaging them in inappropriate discussion about sexual matters
- Meeting a child following sexual “grooming”, which is when an abuser builds up a relationship with a child with the intention of abusing them at some stage.
- It is impossible to describe a typical sex abuser; they do not look different to other people and they behave in a variety of ways; an abuser may be a man or woman or another child or adolescent
Research shows that children are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know including relatives, family friends and people in positions of trust than by a stranger.
Children do not always tell about abuse and it can continue for years undetected.
Do you feel your child has been sexually abused or assaulted in some way?
It is important to provide a safe environment for the child where they can talk to you or another trusted adult. Try to remember to:
- Listen to them and don’t ask for details.
- Believe what they are saying.
- Allow them to say what they feel and cry when they want to cry.
- Keep calm and reassure them.
- Don’t make any promises you can’t keep – like saying you won’t tell anyone or that nothing will happen to the abuser.
- Take care of yourself, hearing a child discuss what has happened to them can be distressing, speak to a professionally trained counsellor so you can fully support the child
- Do not despair or panic – we are here to help
- Your child is our main concern
- We will support you and your child at every step
If you do give us your contact details or, provide identifiable information, we will usually keep your contact with us completely confidential. However, in certain circumstances we may have to share information with another agency (e.g. social services, police or the ambulance service) in order to protect you, or another person. This will apply if:-
- you are a child or young person under 18 who has experienced, or is at risk of, serious harm or
- you provide information about a child or young person under 18 who has experienced, or is at risk of, serious harm or,
- we feel you are a vulnerable adult who has experienced, or is at risk of, serious harm or,
- you provide information about a person we feel may be a vulnerable adult who has experienced, or is at risk of, serious harm.
The person you speak to will be happy to discuss this in more detail. Whenever possible we will advise you before any breach of confidentiality is made.