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Protecting Your Child From Sex Abuse

Experts explain how to recognize signs that your child may have been a victim of sex abuse.

Calming Parent's Fears continued...

"A mother, for example, may not want to turn in the abusing stepfather because she's fearful that child-protective services will place the child in foster care," says Fielder.

What most don't realize, says Fielder, is that should the child confess the abuse to someone else, or if a teacher, neighbor, pediatrician or other family member reports the suspected abuse on their own, the mother may lose the child anyway.

"In the eyes of the law that mother was not protecting her child," says Fielder.

While guidelines governing what happens when a parent reports child abuse can vary from state to state, Amaranth says that nationwide there is a push toward leaving the child in the home and instead removing the abuser from the premises.

"Even if the child must be removed for a short time, most state officials try to place them with a relative or someone they know," says Amaranth.

Adds Fielder: "You are far more likely to keep your child if you demonstrate that you have taken steps to protect them, rather than protect the abuser."

Parents Resources

If you suspect your child is being sexually abused -- or if you are a friend, neighbor, or relative of a child you believe is a victim -- the following organizations can help:

  • Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline (800) 4-A-CHILD ((800) 422-4453) or visit www.ChildHelpUSA.org.
  • Child Abuse National Hotline (800) 252-2873, (800) 25-ABUSE.
  • To find your local state child abuse hotline, check your local government directory under "Child Protective Services" or "Abuse Hotline."
  • Online you can find a directory of local state child abuse hotlines at: www.therapistfinder.net/Child-Abuse/Child-Abuse-Hotlines-Phone-Numbers.html.
  • To find a child-advocacy center in your area, call your local hospital.
  • Online visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, www.nctsnet.org.
  • For a direct link to a listing of child advocacy centers by state, visit www.nctsnet.org/nccts/nav.do?pid=abt_ntwk
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