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February 2021Vol. 22, No. 2Guide for Parents on Preventing Child Sex Abuse

According to recent data, 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before they turn 18, and about 90 percent of victims know their abusers. Child sexual abuse is detrimental to a child's development in many ways, both physically and emotionally, and can have long-term consequences to a child's ability to learn life skills. Children involved with child welfare are more likely to have experienced or experience sexual abuse.

The guide Step Up to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers is intended for parents, foster parents, and kinship caregivers of children and youth under the age of 18. The guide aims to teach parents about what sexual abuse is, signs indicating a child has been sexually abused, who the perpetrators are and the grooming techniques that are often used to lure children, and how to protect the children in their care from being sexually abused.

Some signs of child sexual abuse include the following:

  • Displays sexual knowledge beyond their age/development
  • Verbalizes what sexual contact looks or sounds like
  • Mimics sexual behavior
  • Acts out sexually and does not respond to limits
  • Displays extreme behaviors, such as lack of emotion or aggressive and risk-taking behavior
  • Suddenly changes their eating habits or refuses to eat
  • Suddenly has nightmares or problems sleeping
  • Has headaches, stomach pain or chronic pain
  • Displays sudden, unexplained personality changes or mood swings
  • Acts out or becomes withdrawn

The guide also includes information about child protection laws and additional resources on preventing and reporting child sexual abuse.