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Sexual Abuse

It is very difficult to talk about the subject of sexual abuse, but it happens to children and infants every day. According to Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, more than 850 local children are interviewed about concerns of sexual abuse each year. Sexual abuse has the potential to interfere with a child’s normal, healthy development both emotionally and physically. Sexually victimized children often experience severe emotional disturbances from their own feelings of guilt and shame.

Sexual Abuse is any contact or interaction with a child in which the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator, the child, or another person. Sexual abuse shall include allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution or to be photographed, filmed, or depicted in obscene or pornographic material. Contact solely between children shall meet the criteria only if the contact also involves force, intimidation, difference in maturity, or coercion. (K.S.A. 38-2202 and KAR 30-46-10)

Sexual exploitation of a child should always be reported immediately. Sexual exploitation of a child can be defined as “employing, using, persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a child under 16 years of age to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of promoting any performance”.

Indicators of Sexual Abuse

There are both physical and behavioral indicators of sexual abuse. The following is a list of common indicators that a child is being sexually abused. Please note that this list is not all inclusive, and there could be other indicators presented.

Common Physical Indicators

  • Sexually transmitted venereal disease or infection, including oral infections 
  • Pregnancy, especially in early adolescents 
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease 
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing 
  • Difficulty or pain in walking and/or sitting 
  • Foreign matter in the bladder, rectum, urethra, or vagina 
  • Painful discharge of urine and/ or repeated urinary infections 
  • Bruising, trauma and lesions inside or around the mouth 

It is important to note that the physical symptoms listed above are not normally seen in young children and are often difficult (and in some cases, impossible) to explain by any other cause than sexual abuse. Children are not typically physically hurt during a sexual abuse; therefore, it is important to pay special attention to the following behavioral indicators.

Common Behavioral Indicators

  • Verbally reporting abuse
  • Reporting nightmares or bedwetting
  • Refusal to participate in physical activities, such as gym 
  • Sudden change in appetite
  • Strange, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Expressing fear of a particular person or place
  • Excessive masturbation, precocious sex play, excessive curiosity about sex
  • Sexually abusing another child
  • Delinquency, runaway or truancy
  • Self-injurious behaviors, suicide attempts
  • Extreme fear of being touched; unwilling to submit to physical examination
  • Poor peer relationships

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Is excessively protective or limits the child’s contact with other children
  • Is secretive and isolated
  • Is jealous or controlling
  • Encourages the child to engage in prostitution or sexual acts

Source: Kansas Department for Children and Families and

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