Knowledge and Resource Hub
24 September 2018

How to spot if a child's being sexually abused — and what to do if they tell you

This article discusses signs of child sexual abuse and appropriate responses to disclosures. Children can demonstrate varying behaviours depending on their age and developmental ability. Common indicators in children may include loss of concentration, fear of being hurt during nappy change or dressing, fear of being alone with a particular person, bedwetting or soiling after being toilet trained as well as more severe behavioural signs such as eating disorders and self-harm. Offenders may also display behavioural indicators by paying particular attention to a child which may involve giving the child gifts, isolating a child from other children, engaging in inappropriate/unwanted close physical contact with a child, seeking to be alone with the child and encouraging children to engage in secret behaviours. Offenders also often describe children with sexual words.