Concerned For A Child?

Warning Signs of Abuse
Normal Sexual Behavior

Ages 0-5: During this stage children are curious about the world around them; this does not exclude sexual curiosity. Interests include their own body as well as touching other’s body parts. Children at this age masturbate to sooth themselves and will try to touch other children’s genitalia if allowed. This can be redirected quickly with limit setting.

Latency Age 6-10: Children continue to fondle their own genitalia but it becomes more secretive. Sex games, such as “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours,” boys comparing penis size, dirty jokes, swearing, and looking at books which explain body parts become the way to satisfy sexual curiosity.

Preadolescence Age 10-12: Preadolescent are interested in establishing relationships with peers and may include kissing and fondling. Most experiences are heterosexual but some may be homosexual. Masturbation continues to be a sexual behavior.

Abnormal Sexual Behavior

Ask Questions about these activities:

  • Sexually explicit conversation with peers
  • Sexual innuendo/teasing/embarrassment of others
  • Precocious sexual knowledge
  • Single occurrences of: peeping, exposing, use of obscenities pornographic interest, rubbing genitals against others or objects, mutual masturbation/group masturbation stimulating foreplay with dolls or peers with clothing on (petting, French kissing)

Ask questions and possibly seek out an evaluation to rule out sexual abuse if you spot these activities:

  • Sexually explicit conversations with others of significant age difference
  • Touching their own genitals excessively or touching the genitals of others
  • Degradation/humiliation of self or others with sexual themes
  • Forced exposure of other’s genitals inducing fear/threats of force
  • Sexually explicit proposals/threats including written notes
  • Repeated or chronic peeping, exposing, use of obscenities, pornographic interest
  • Rubbing genitals against others or objects compulsive masturbation/task interruption to masturbate
  • Female masturbation that includes vaginal penetration stimulating intercourse with dolls, peers, animals (humping)

No Questions; Seek a professional for evaluation if you spot these activities:

  • Oral vaginal, anal penetration of dolls, children, animals
  • Forced touching of genitals
  • Simulating intercourse with peers with clothing off
  • Any genital injury or bleeding not explained by accidental cause

Sexually Reactive Children

A sexually reactive child is one who has been sexually abused or is being sexually abused and begins sexually acting out on children the same age or younger than they are, partly out of a need to recreate previous sexual stimulation and partly due to making sense out of the sexual abuse he/she experienced. The goals of treatment include:

  1. Eliminate the inappropriate sexual behaviors.
  2. Help the child process his/her own sexual victimization.
  3. Learn Age-appropriate sexuality

Questions parents can ask themselves if they discover their children engaging in sexual behaviors with other children:

  1. What is the power and size difference of the participants?
  2. Was force or intimidation used?
  3. Was secrecy involved?
  4. How developmentally appropriate were the sexual acts?