Frequently Asked Questions
Child sexual abuse occurs when a person engages a child (under the age of 18) in acts to satisfy their sexual desires.
1) When any person, adult or child forces, coerces or threatens a child to have any form of sexual contact or to engage in any type of sexual activity at his or her discretion. While a child might be forced to cooperate, he or she is (by legal definition) not capable of giving consent.
2) Involving children in inappropriate touching (clothed or unclothed), penetration using any object, forcing sexual activity between children, or asking the child to view, to read or to participate in the production of pornographic materials.
3) A person commits the offense of child molestation when he or she does any immoral or indecent act to, in the presence of or with any child with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or person.
Nobody knows. Offenders come in all shapes, professions, socio-economic classes, and races. However, most sexual offenders are known by the child and not strangers.
It is critical that your child feels believed and supported once they have made a disclosure of abuse. Having a caregivers support will promote your child’s emotional stability. Assess your child’s health to see if medical attention is necessary. All child abuse must be reported to officials whether it be Law Enforcement or Department of Family and Children Services. It is important that your child is allowed to communicate about their abuse. However, it is imperative that you not interrogate your child. Reassure your child it is not their fault and validate their feelings.
Tell your child that they will be meeting with a special person who talks to kids. Tell your child that even though they have told things to you (or someone else), it is important that the information is given to someone who can help.
All child abuse cases are investigated by a team of professionals including the Children’s Advocacy Center, Law Enforcement, Department of Family and Children Services, District Attorney’s Office, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, and Mental Health Professional. Each month these team members meet to discuss the investigation and follow up of every case. These professionals place the needs and best interest of the child before any personal or professional goals.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are specially trained nurses that look for evidence of sexual assault on a child’s body. The exam involves a regular check-up of the body with a magnification tool. This exam should not be traumatic to the child. An exam may not indicate if a child has been abused.
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) were established to reduce the trauma involved with child abuse investigations. CAC’s strive to create a child-friendly environment where a child and the non-offending caregiver can come to receive intervention and support services.
Natural and healthy sexual exploration during childhood is an information gathering process wherein children explore gender roles and behaviors. If you feel your child is displaying inappropriate sexual behaviors or has increased knowledge of sexual activity, please seek professional help with a counselor or physician.
Child abuse should be reported as soon as one is made aware of a situation. It is the responsibility of the parent to protect the child from harm. A child who has been abused needs love and support from their non-offending caregiver. This allows for a safe environment for a child to talk about their abusive experience. It is not the priority of any child welfare agency to remove a child from their home. A child who is not protected from abuse is in danger therefore the proper steps must be made to ensure the child’s safety. If you know a child in danger please contact DFCS or 911.
It is best practice that all persons working with or has contact with children to make a report when there is reasonable cause a child may be in danger or being abused. Reports should also be made when evident markings or injury that is indicitive of abuse is noticed on a child.