Signs/Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual Behavior Indicators:

  • Copying adult sexual behavior
  • Persistent, inappropriate, unusual, or aggressive sexual play with other children, themselves, toys, or pets
  • Displaying sexual knowledge, through language or behavior, that is beyond what is normal for their age
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Excessive curiosity about sexual matters or genitalia (self and others)
  • Unusually seductive with classmates, teachers, and other adults
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Excessive concern about sexual identity

Behavioral Indicators in Younger Children:

  • Bed wetting
  • Fecal soiling
  • Eating problems (overeating, under eating)
  • Fears or phobias
  • Overly compulsive behavior
  • School problems or significant change in school performance (attitude and grades)
  • Regression to behavior already mastered, such as thumb sucking, bed-wetting, etc.
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sleep disturbances (e.g., nightmares, fearful about falling asleep, fretful sleep patterns, or sleeping long hours)

Behavioral Indicators in Older Children and Adolescents:

  • Withdrawal from family, friends, or usual activities
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Passive or overly pleasing behavior
  • Poor hygiene or excessive bathing
  • Poor peer relations and social skills
  • Acting out, running away or aggressive behavior
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • School problems, frequent absences, sudden drop in school performance
  • Refusal to dress for physical education
  • Nonparticipation in sports and social activities
  • Fearful of showers/restrooms
  • Fearful of home life demonstrated by arriving at school early or leaving late
  • Suddenly fearful of other things (e.g., going outside, participating in familiar activities)
  • Extraordinary fear of males (of being approached or touched by them)
  • Self-consciousness of body beyond that expected for age
  • Crying without provocation
  • Suicide attempts