Before I start listing the signs that a child might be molested, I want to reiterate this point. Child abuse and molestation does happen, and – Heaven forbid – can happen in your own home. Just because we live in an Arab and Islamic country, it does not mean it does not happen here. Just ask the people at Be Free who deal with cases of child molestation right here in Bahrain on a regular basis.
According to some studies, at least two out of every ten girls and at least one out of every 10 boys get molested. This is a shockingly high number. By the way, the vast majority of cases of child abuse, neglect or molestation are not reported. So the figure might be much higher than that!
Their families’ ignorance and denial. Most parents think that somehow child molestation somehow occurs in other families or social classes. They think they are immune to this scourge. They assume that no one would molest their child, and if someone would, the child would immediately tell them. Sadly, they are wrong on both counts. Child molesters walk among us. They look and act like us. They have normal – and often respectable – jobs, and might even have families of their own. Also, child molesters (in the vast majority of cases) know how to make the child keep the secret. Look, it’s not that difficult to manipulate a child, and somehow make them think that what was done to them was their own fault, and that if they told they’d get into trouble. They are MILLIONS of adults who have been molested as children and have never told a single person about it.
Another thing parents are ignorant about is thinking that their children would never molest other children. The sexual interest in children usually develops in the teenage years. But of course most parents would assume that their teenage son would never do that. The aforementioned authors state in their book that if parents would just consider the possibility, that their son might have a sexual interest in children, or just consider the possibility that someone might be sexually interested in their children, that the vast majority of sexual molestation cases could be avoided. (By the way, in the book they mention treatment methods where teenage boys can be cured of their interest in children.)
I know what you’re probably thinking, this could never happen to me, I always tell my children not to talk to strangers, right? Sorry for my bluntness, but most of the 3 million American children that get abused were probably told the same thing. Besides, 90% of molestation happens from someone the child knows. So talking about strangers is almost useless. Besides, did you ever explain to your child what a stranger is? Ask them what they think a stranger is and you’ll probably get a very interesting and unexpected answer. They probably think strangers are people who look or act strange. A stranger can’t be that friendly guy that sells the ice cream, but he’s nice…
I don’t mean to scare you, but like Dr. Gene Abel and Nora Harlow, I just want you to consider the possibility. I practice what I preach, and consider the possibility all the time. Better to be a bit too sceptical then too ignorant. Someone wise once said (I forget who) “just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”
So I hope I’ve managed to make you think about this a bit. And sorry if I offended.
Okay, here’s a list of thirteen things to look for that might be a sign of molestation.
1) New and unexpected fears that your child did not have before.
2) Knowledge of sexual matters they shouldn’t know or didn’t know before. This is a big one, and worth probing if you notice it.
3) Stained or bloody underwear.
4) Bleeding or discharge from the rectum, penis or vagina.
5) Sore or swollen genital areas.
6) Bed wetting.
7) Fear of being left alone with a certain person.
8 ) Running away from home.
9) Changes in study and school performance.
10) Negative reaction in the presence of someone.
11) Acting childish or infantile.
12) Self-destructive behavior.
13) Sexually transmitted diseases.
This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good indicator. There might be a reasonable explanation if your child shows one or two of these signs, but it still worth being vigilant. I use what I call “healthy paranoia”, meaning I try to be vigilant, yet not overly so. Of course, some of these signs are more serious than others, like the bleeding for example.
For more on this, you might want to listen to an audio interview conducted with me on some of the techniques child molesters use to attract children. This audio is absolutely free. It’s my way of trying to help as many families as possible. Again, it is not all-inclusive, as it would require hundreds of hours of audio to cover everything there is to know about the topic of child molestation. But it will probably give you a few nuggets that you can help you keep your children safe.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.