This is Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Cape Cod

What every parent should know about child abuse

The Chatham Banknorth office in the middle of that town gave over its lawn to publicize this vital issue. Similar displays are on the front lawns of several other Banknorth offices including the one at the Hyannis rotary at the airport. capecodtoday photo

Children's Cove - Cape and the Island Advocacy Center's awareness campaign

Children's Cove is a freestanding, child-friendly facility designed to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse and their non-offending family members have access to support and services in a safe, respectful, and compassionate environment.

We are committed to reducing the trauma endured by child victims, promoting accountability, fostering healing, and advocating on behalf of child victims of sexual abuse and physical abuse.

Every SIX minutes, a child in the United Stated is sexually abused.

"It won't happen in my family."

  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before age 18.
  • 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18.
  • 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet.

"I live in a great neighborhood. This wouldn't happen here."

  • Only 10% of abusers are strangers.
  • People who abuse children look and act like everyone else. They often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children.
  • 34% of victims are abused by family members.
  • Another 59% are abused by someone they know and trust.

"My child tells me everything. They would certainly tell me if they were abused."

  • Over 30% of children never disclose their abuse to ANYONE.
  • The younger victims may not realize their victimization as sexual abuse.
  • Understand why a child does not tell:
    • Most abusers are manipulative and will confuse the child as to what is right or wrong.
    • The child may have been threatened not to tell anyone.
    • Most children are ashamed of the abuse.
    • Children are often afraid to disappoint their parents and may feel they have done something wrong.

Signs and Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse

While there is no one true indicator that can tell you if your child has been sexually abused, there are often warning signs that your child may exhibit. In some cases, there may be no outward signs of abuse beyond what a child will hopefully tell you.

  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Nightmares, trouble sleeping
  • Sudden mood swings/unexplained anger or rebellion
  • Fear of certain people or places
  • Frequent stomach illness or headaches with no identifiable reason
  • Redness, rashes, bleeding, or swelling in the genital areas
  • Pain at the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Sexualized behaviors with toys, pets, or other children
  • New words for private body parts
  • Behaviors of a younger child: bedwetting or thumb sucking
  • Loss of appetite

Children's Cove and other community agencies offer services to help children and non-offending family members overcome the effects of trauma. Children react differently depending upon their age, nature and extent of the abuse suffered, support from others and their relationship with the offender. The single most important factor affecting the child's recovery is the level of support the child receives from a parent or caregiver. It is that simple. If you do everything you can to support your child, the chances of recovery are much greater. If you feel torn between loyalty to your child and loyalty to the offender, find a professional to help you sort it out immediately. (Remember that the victim is your child. The abuser chose his/her actions.)

To learn  more about how you can spot child abuse and how you can help in our efforts here on Cape Cod to stop it, see their website. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on