Frequently Asked Questions
How should I react in front of a possible sexual aggression disclosure towards my son or daughter?
Keeping him/her away from the aggressor.
Keeping him/her in a safe place.
Telling daily how worthy, important, and loved he/she is.
Understanding that the abuse event does not define, guide, nor determine the minor’s life.
Taking him/her to professional help.
Do sexual aggressions only happen to girls?
No. Underage boys can and have been sexually abused. Statistics related to the number of abused minors have many limitations. Also, in some places, aggressions towards males are not acknowledged. There are several reasons for this, such as:
Statistics are based on reported cases. Some research reports have exposed that only 3, out of 12 cases are reported to the authorities.
In some regions, sexual abuse towards males is acceptable.
Laws that typify sexual abuse as a crime, may vary in different countries.
Are sexual aggressions always committed by strangers?
Research of sexual offenders shows that:
They approached boys and girls:
o That were alone in certain place.
o That were very curious (with no healthy boundaries).
o Who appeared to be too unsuspecting.
They used the following strategies:
o Gain the family trust.
o Take advantage, when a child could get close to ask anything.
o Seek opportunities to be alone with the minor, asking to play, teach some sport or play a musical instrument. This was the most common.
o Appeared to be kind and caring.
o Tell the minor that it is a game or teaching.
o Threats to hurting the minor’s family.
o Threats to say that it was the minor’s fault.
If I introduce this topic with my little children, will I be taking away their innocence while arousing curiosity?
An offender, takes advantage precisely, on the lack of knowledge and skills a minor might have, to approach him/her. Children should learn how to proceed in a possible sexual aggression situation. It is important to highlight that teaching a minor how to be protected, does not mean, talking about sex. It means, providing them of safety.
Are people who commit sexual aggressions always men?
No. There is a false perception in some countries that those who abuse and mistreat children, are men. Data shows that women also incur in this action. Once more, it depends on reported cases and cultural taboos in different countries. There is not a unique profile that identifies a person as a minors’ sexual offender. We can only rely on the alert signs. To identify those signs, we must know them.
Is it the mother responsibility to share this topic with the children?
The myth behind this question is associated with a fact in many cultures where the mother is directly responsible of raising her children. These days, many children are raised by other family members who are not their biological parents, necessarily. We have grandparents raising their grandchildren, adoptive parents, stepparents, uncles, siblings, substitute homes; mong many options. The primary responsibility to teach this topic to children relies on whoever is carrying out the raising of a child, be it the biological parent or not.
Even if I am always checking on my children, can this happen to them?
As a father, mother, or caregiver, you might think that your child will never be at risk of a sexual aggression because you know your family well, your neighbors, your friends and your children’s, his/her teachers, and all their surroundings. However, the truth is that risks and dangers do exist, and they commonly occur within the children daily living environment, as researches have evidenced. We all know that no one carries a sign stating, “I am a sexual offender”.
Risks do exist in the daily living of children. For that reason, it is necessary to teach them about those risks to reduce the possibilities of a sexual aggression.
What is the indicated age to talk to boys and girls about this topic?
0 to 3 years of age
Observe body changes (examples: redness, swollen genital area, genital bleeding). Ifyou notice any physical changes in the infant’s body, including in his/her privateparts, you should seek immediate medical assistance.
Always supervise all the locations where your child visits, such as:
o Nurseries/child care
Teach basic concepts such as:
o The five senses.
o Basic emotions, such as: love, hate, fear, happiness.
o The body parts with its adequate names.
o Their personal space importance. It refers to the physical proximity to the minor’s body.
o Begin prevention dialogues. Teach them the following 3 lessons:
To say “No” to the people and things he/she does not like.
To tell you about everything that has occurred, including if they make him/her feel scared, uncomfortable, or another negative emotion.
To say “STOP” to people who invade his/her personal space.
Increase the teaching of basic emotions to the following: guilt, calmness, anger, joy, confidence, trust; among others.
Review the senses and its purposes. It is through them that children receive stimulus and learn about their surroundings.
Review the body parts and how to take care of them. For example: washing them, not exposing them to hazardous materials, covering them with clothing.
Develop a home safety plan. Your child should know who to call and the phone number, in the event of an emergency.
Teach about specific dangers he/she might face. For example: in the Internet, if other minor or adult asks to touch or look his/her private parts, or a strange person coming close to ask personal information.
What are the sexual aggression indicators?
1. Touching or rubbing the genitals continuously or insisting in touching other children genitals, preferring doing this instead of another activity, such as playing or eating.
2. Insists on exposing his/her genitals to other children and/or adults in public, after being told that such a behavior is not proper.
3. Intends persistently or sneakily to touch or see other people’s naked bodies even after been instructed of not doing it.
4. Talks a lot about sex and sexual relations.
5. Intends to introduce foreign objects in his/her genitals, continuously.
6. Asks people to remove their clothes or intends of doing it himself/herself by force.
1. Asks to have his/her private parts seen or touched even after having been advised of not doing it.
2. Uses foul language even after been told not to do so.
3. Tries to force other children to take off their clothes to play.
4. Talks too much about sex and sexual relations.
5. Forces other children to sexual games.
6. Draws the sex act of group sex.
1. Continuously seeks rubbing his/her genitals against other children, adults or foreign objects pretending to be playing.
2. Slyly of fiercely, touches other minors or adults’ genitals.
3. Harms his/her or other people’s genitals.
4. Seeks playing with children of a remarkable age difference.
5. Uses video games highly sexualized.
Regardless of their age, sudden changes in their behavior should always be observed, such as: suddenly wanting to be alone, fears, continuous nightmares, expressing to be seeing monsters in his/her bedroom, lack of appetite, sudden and excessive desires for sexuality, foul sexual expressions continuously, self-mutilation, wishes of dying; among others that concern you.
These behaviors do not necessarily mean that a minor was sexually abused, but they do suggest that he/she was possibly exposed to an age-inappropriate sexuality, which places his/her at risk of experiencing sexual abuse. If you have noticed any of these behaviors, consult with a professional.
Adapted from: Johnson, Toni. (2003). “Understanding Sexual Behaviors in Childhood” (informative brochure).
Why is it important to call the body private parts by their correct name?
Research has evidenced that sexual offenders change the body private parts names to confuse the children. The following is a hypothetical excerpt, taken from a real case. The real case facts are changed.
An 8-year-old girl was claiming for about one year, that her “lollipop” was hurting her. No one took her expressions seriously and it turned out that she was being sexually abused by a male adult who named her vulva, “lollipop”. If she had said, “my vulva is hurting me”, it could be certain that her situation would have been taken care of much sooner.
We strengthen with this example, the importance of always teaching children the adequate name of their body private parts, as naturally as they are taught the name of the other body parts.
Can a sexual aggression from a family member be overlooked?
No. A sexual aggression is a crime and it should be reported. Trusting the minor is the priority. Even when it might be difficult reporting a family member, that person used his/her closeness to the minor and abused him/her by manipulating him/her, and exercising power and control over the minor. Support to the minor must prevail above any family relation or friendship with the offender, if such was the case.
Is it the boy or girl’s responsibility to avoid a sexual aggression?
A sexual offender is always responsible for a sexual aggression against a minor. It is never a minor’s responsibility. A minor does not have the emotional and cognitive maturity to acknowledge the consequences of an aggression, nor has the physical strength to control or stop it. The person who chooses sexually gratifying him/herself with a minor, is total and completely responsible of involving a minor in a relationship, by exercising his/her power and control to achieve his/her objective.
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