The statistics involving child abuse are shocking: in 2005, 9.3% of substantial child abuse and neglect cases involved sexual abuse- in other words, 83,800 children were sexually abused. Sexual abuse can involve a variety of things from touching or fondling, to sexual penetration to showing a child pornographic material to soliciting a child for prostitution or to film, photograph or model for pornographic purposes. Essentially, child abuse is when an adult or older adolescent “uses a child for sexual stimulation.” In other words, child sexual abuse is when a child is subject to sexual activity that he/she “cannot comprehend or give informed consent.”
Anyone could be guilty of sexually abusing a child- a pediatrician, psychologist, priest, teacher, coach, apartment manager, daycare employee, older friend, cousin or brother, uncle, grandparent, father, neighbor, and so forth. Sexual abusers aren’t only pedophiles and they aren’t only men. Recent studies have shown that women too can be sexual predators- whether that be against their students, in conjunction with a male (usually a partner) or individuals who were sexually abused as children and abuse others as an adult.
The sadder facts are that most children are sexually abused by people they know- and never open up about it. That brings up the question, how do you know if your child is being sexually abused? Any of the following symptoms could indicate that a person is being sexually abused:
- Disclosure by the victim that he/she is being abused
- Fear or crying
- Feeding problems
- Bowel problems
- Bed wetting or stranger anxiety
- Bullying others/aggression
- Excessive masturbation
- Feelings of guilt
- Withdrawal from family
- Depression/suicide attempts
- Poor school performance
- Substance abuse
- Running away from home
- Contraction of a sexually-transmitted disease
- Child becomes pregnant
After your child has received the medical and emotional help he or she needs, you can hold an abuser criminally and financially responsible for the harm they caused. Often other parties, besides the abuser, can be held liable too. If a daycare or school does not properly screen its employees, it should be held responsible too for the abuse that occurred. Schools and other public facilities that are responsible for the education and care of children are called to a higher degree of safety and accountability.
The danger in a case of child sexual abuse, is waiting too long to step forward. Because of expanded statutes of limitations, it is imperative that a lawsuit be filed as soon as a child sexual abuse case has been discovered. In Texas, there is a five year statute of limitations for sexual assault of a child. However, protections within the law state that if the victim was abused as a minor, he/she has until they turn 18 to press charges and collect compensation.
After a child has been sexually abused, he/she is more prone to alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual dysfunction, sexual addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicide. When someone’s carelessness and criminal acts adversely affect the welfare of your family, you should aggressively seek to collect damages. Damages could help pay for medical treatment and psychological treatment and help the victim recover both physically and mentally and emotionally. Child sexual abuse is a serious problem and abusers and parties that allow abusers to get away with their crime should be held responsible.