Signs of Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, signs of Sexual Abuse in children are not black and white or clear cut. Assessment is difficult and multifacited. 30-40% of kids are asymptomatic following abuse and 30% exhibit few symptoms. Sexual behavior is one of many potential indicators. That being said, it is important as caregivers to know normal sexual developement in children in order to recognize concerning behavior. We hope that the following information will be used as a guide.

 

 Normal Sexual Development

 

Birth to 2 Years



SEXUAL KNOWLEDGE


SEXUAL BEHAVIOR


*Gender identity


*Genital Exploration


*Origins of Self Esteem


*Penile Erections, Vaginal Lubrication


*Learns labels for body parts


*Genital pleasure is possible


*Uses slang labels


*Touches sex parts


 


*Enjoys nudity

 

 

3 to 5 Years



SEXUAL KNOWLEDGE


SEXUAL BEHAVIOR


*Gender Performance


*Masturbates for pleasure, may experience orgasm


*Gender differences are   understood


*Sex play with siblings or peers; shows genitals; explores own/others genitals


*Limited information about pregnancy & childbirth


*Enjoys nudity


*Knows labels for parts but prefers slang


*Uses elimination words with peers


*Uses elimination functions for sexual parts


 

 

 

6 to 12 Years



SEXUAL KNOWLEDGE


SEXUAL BEHAVIOR


*Genital basis of gender


*Sex games, role lpay, fantasy, “doctor”


*Correct labels, uses slang


*Masturbation in private


*Sexual aspects of pregnancy


*Modesty, embarrassment: hides games from adults


*Increasing knowledge: masturbation, intercourse, physical aspects of puberty


*Puberty begins: menstruation, wet dreams


 


*Interested in media sex


 


*Uses sexual language

 

 

13+ Years



SEXUAL KNOWLEDGE


SEXUAL BEHAVIOR


*Sexual Intercourse


*Puberty continues: most girls menstruate by 16; most boys capable of ejaculation by 15


*Contraception


*Dating begins


*Sexually Transmitted Diseases


*Sexual contacts common: kissing, petting


 


*Sexual fantasy, dreams


 


*Sexual Intercourse may occur in up to 75% by age 18

 

 Source: Sexuality:
a developmental approach to problems
, Gordon & Schroeder

To report suspected child abuse or neglect in New Hampshire, call 1-800-894-5533

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