Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sexually Aggressive Children

View the article here.

This is so very sad.. What is going on in this world?

Advisory: Contains Some Graphic Content

It's a disturbing thought for any parent, young children acting out sexually to other children. The big question now facing authorities and parents is what to do about it.

A local 7-year-old girl said a 6-year-old boy sexually assaulted her at school!

"He started it, he started digging in my privates," the girl said.

When asked if she asked him to stop she replied, "mmhh but he wouldn't."

The girl's mother, who asked not to be identified, said at first she didn't believe her daughter's story that a child was the alleged attacker.

"I didn't think it was no kid she just kept naming this kid, kept naming this kid and I was like are you sure you sure," the mother said.

Philadelphia public school officials said school police were called about the allegation. The district said that incident was unfounded, however, officials did tell Action News that the same boy was accused of fondling another girl a month before. That incident was deemed to be true and the boy was suspended.

The Allentown school district is in the middle of a federal lawsuit, over reported sexually assaults at Central Elementary. The suit claims that after a 12-year-old boy sexually assaulted a first grade boy, and he was allowed to stay in school. Parents say the boy later sexually assaulted three more first grade boys. The 12-year-old is currently in a juvenile detention center.

"We're seeing kids as young as three years old with sexual behavior problems," said Thomas Haworth.

Haworth is the Director of the Child and Adolescent Program at the Joseph J. Peters Institute, which provides help for offenders and victims of sexual abuse.

He said contrary to popular opinion, children don't learn their behavior from TV, movies or magazines. They learn it from the adults in their lives. They watch how those adults react to sexual images and actions and then mimic them.

"They analyze how we behave and they take that information to inform their own behavior," Haworth said.

He said it is not unusual for children as young as 6, 7 and 8 to show some sexual behavior, and that it doesn't mean the child will grow up to become a sex offender.

The concern comes when that behavior becomes more adult like, but even then, Haworth says young children don't fully understand it.

"Often times this is misunderstood behavior it's not sexual behavior like we understand sexual behavior of being an expression of carnal desire."

He said parents' first line of defense is watching how they act in front of their children and talking to their kids. Also, make sure all sexual material is kept in an area for adults only.

Haworth said, "Parents have to take a role in clarifying the roles the kind of rules in the family about privacy, boundaries and sexuality."

Behavioral Warning Signs A Child May Have Been Abused

Some of these behavioral signs can show up at other stressful times in a child's life such as divorce, the death of a family member, friend or pet, or when there are problems in school, as well as when abuse is involved. Any one sign doesn't mean the child was abused, but several of them mean that you should begin asking questions. Do you notice some of the following behaviors in children you know well?

  • Nightmares, trouble sleeping, fear of the dark, or other sleeping problems.
  • Extreme fear of "monsters".
  • Spacing out at odd times.
  • Loss of appetite, or trouble eating or swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, anger, or withdrawal.
  • Fear of certain people or places (e.g., a child may not want to be left alone with a baby-sitter, a friend, a relative, or some other child or adult; or a child who is usually talkative and cheery may become quiet and distant when around a certain person).
  • Stomach illness all of the time with no identifiable reason.
  • An older child behaving like a younger child, such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking.
  • Sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children/siblings to behave sexually.
  • New words for private body parts.
  • Refusing to talk about a "secret" he/she has with an adult or older child.
  • Talking about a new older friend.
  • Suddenly having money.
  • Cutting or burning herself or himself as an adolescent.
If you have any questions about these or other signs and symptoms, please call the Stop It Now! Toll-Free Helpline at 1-888-PREVENT.

Physical Warning Signs A Child May Have Been Abused

Does a child close to you have:
  • Unexplained bruises, redness, or bleeding of the child's genitals, anus, or mouth?
  • Pain at the genitals, anus, or mouth?
  • Genital sores or milky fluids in the genital area?
What are the sexually abusing behaviors I should know about?

It is not always easy to tell if child sexual abuse is happening especially if the possible abuser is another child. Remember, you are not on your own; you only need to decide that it would be helpful to have someone else look at what is going on.

Do you know a child or adolescent who:
  • Takes younger children to secret places? (e.g. forts, hideouts, the woods, etc.)
  • Plays "secret" games with younger children? (e.g. doctor, "pants-down" games, etc.)
  • Plays games with a child that the adolescent would otherwise avoid or hate? (e.g. adolescent playing "house" with a child of five.)
  • Experiences sudden wide changes in moods or habits? (e.g. refuses to leave his or her room or expresses anger in unexpected outbursts.)
  • Insists on hugging or kissing a child when the child does not want to be hugged or kissed?
  • Tells you he or she does not want to be left alone with a child?
  • Becomes anxious when he or she is told about a particular person coming to visit?
  • Focuses intense attention on or is overly interested in the physical maturing of children? (e.g. comments on or is overly interested in the developing bodies of others.)
  • Uses frequent sexualized language in commonplace settings?
  • Shows sexual material to younger children?
  • Makes obscene phone calls?
  • Shares alcohol or other drugs with younger children or teens?
  • Exposes his or her genitals to younger children?
  • Forces sex on another adolescent or child?
Healthy Sexuality In Children

Sexuality is a part of every human regardless of age. Below is just a partial list of healthy sexual behaviors in children:

Preschool (0-5 yrs.)
Common: Sexual language relating to differences in body parts, bathroom talk, pregnancy and birth. Masturbation at home and in public. Showing and looking at private body parts.

Uncommon: Discussion of sexual acts. Contact experiences with other children.

School Age (6-12 yrs.)
Common: Questions about menstruation, pregnancy, sexual behavior. "Experimenting" with same-age children, including kissing, fondling, exhibitionism, and role-playing. Masturbation at home or other private places.

Uncommon: Use of sexual words and discussing sexual acts.

Adolescence (13-16 yrs.)
Common: Questions about decision-making, social relationships, and sexual customs. Masturbation in private. Experimenting between adolescents of the same age, including open-mouth kissing, fondling, and body rubbing. Also, voyeuristic behaviors. Sexual intercourse occurs in approximately one third of this age group.

For a more complete list or if you have any questions or concerns about the sexual behaviors of a child in your life, please call the Stop It Now! Toll-Free Helpline at 1-888-PREVENT.



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