National Child Protection Week Sept 1st – 7th

Responding To Children And Young People Who Disclose Child Sexual Abuse

Many children and young people won’t disclose child sexual abuse until later in their life. However some things make it more likely that a child or young person may tell about sexual abuse earlier.

This includes:

  • If they trust the person;
  • If they feel comfortable with the person;
  • If they feel they are in a safe environment; I
  • f they think this person will understand them;
  • If they feel this person will believe them;
  • If they know they won’t get into trouble;
  • If they have the understanding that what is happening is wrong and not their fault;
  • If they believe their future is unsafe and they need to get some assistance.

Child sexual abuse involves a wide range of sexual activity including fondling genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal penetration, anal penetration by a finger, penis or other object, voyeurism and exhibitionism. It also includes exploitation through pornography and prostitution.

It is always important to listen, respect and support children who talk to you about an experience of sexual abuse. There are no formulas for talking to them, but below are some guidelines to understanding and responding.

How might children and young people tell?
Children and young people tell others about their experience of sexual abuse in a variety of ways:

– Through their play e.g. painting, drawing, dolls house;
– Through their behaviour e.g. nightmares, angry outbursts;
– By telling us directly;
– By telling others who tell us;
– By asking us questions about possible sexual abuse;
– By ‘testing the waters’ by telling a small part of what may be happening and seeing what the response or reaction may be;
– Telling us indirectly through statements such as “I don’t want to see…..”, “I don’t want to sit on …….lap”, “I don’t like ……”
– Or all or some of the above.