Parenting Child Psychology and Behaviour

How Child Sexual Abuse Affects Your Child's Mental Development?

G Vaishnavi
7 to 11 years

Created by G. Vaishnavi
Updated on Dec 21, 2020

How Child Sexual Abuse Affects Your Childs Mental Development
Reviewed by Expert panel

Decades ago child sexual abuse was a non-existent term. However, sadly, the scenario today is very different and also more dangerous. Talking about sexual abuse facts, it is said that one-in-three females and one-in-six males are sexually abused in childhood. It is sad that over 80,000 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported in a given year. Child sexual abuse accounts for about 8% of the child abuse cases.

So, what can we do about this burning issue? Well, the answer is simple! Caution starts at home. Here's all that you must teach your child about sexual abuse. Act before it's too late!

What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse was a rare phrase back then. But, sadly, this has become a burning issue lately. Open any newspaper and you are sure to read at least one case of sexual abuse in some part of our country. While this was confined to adults only at some point, it has now conveniently found its way among children too.

Child sexual abuse is defined as an act of inappropriately touching that occurs between a child and an adult. This can involve touching, penetration, flashing or even child pornography. And this can occur not just among girls, but among boys as well. READ: What is Child Sexual Abuse? 

Read about the signs of Child Sexual Abuse and the recent news SC Stays Bombay HC's 'Groping Without Skin-to-Skin Contact Isn't Sexual Assault' Order.

Impact Of Child Sexual Abuse On Toddlers

Just like rape, child sexual abuse also leaves a permanent scar in children. The effects of child sexual abuse include behavioral, cognitive and psychological effects. Substance abuse, eating disorders and low self-esteem can occur as a result of child sexual abuse. READ:  Ways to Educate Child to Protect from Molestation, Rape etc.

And as the child ages, the effects of sexual abuse only get more intense. While on one hand, the child is very well aware of the abuser, he / she is also worried if sharing the horrifying incident with someone might result in:

  • Them getting in trouble, being shamed or judged
  • A loss of love
  • Violence (often due to threats from the abuser)
  • The break-up of the family

And sadly enough, sexual abuse has devastating effects on children. So, if you are wondering what is the effect of child abuse on children? Here are some effects of sexual abuse on a growing child:

  1. Disturbed sleep
  2. Depression
  3. Change in eating habits
  4. Low grades in school
  5. Fear of anything and everything
  6. Unusual aggressiveness
  7. Secretiveness
  8. Refusal to go to school
  9. Fear to be social
  10. Aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, fantasies

Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse

Very often parents find it very hard to diagnose the signs of child abuse. But here's one thing you must remember parents: Actions speak louder than words and this definitely holds true in case of kids. They often communicate a lot through their actions than words and the same applies even to kids who are sexually abused. If you thought your child might have a chat about sexual abuse, in case anything happens, you are wrong. Kids respond and react differently to child sexual abuse; Therefore no one can definitively tell you that your suspicions are right or wrong. However, there are some behaviors that warrant concern. Here are some symptoms of child abuse .

  1. Sexualised play

    If you find your child is kissing, lying over or caressing a doll, it is a matter of concern. While it is not wrong for kids to kiss their dolls, enacting sexual acts like oral sex etc, is definitely atypical
  2. Bleeding or infection from private parts

    This is one thing you just must not ignore. Take a quick look at your little one's privates while having a bath. If you notice bleeding or any other form of infection, it could be a concern. Rush to the doctor immediately
  3. A strong negative response to a particular person

    If your child is consistently avoiding, being impolite or frightened by a person they encounter, it would be worth exploring further

Apart from these mood swings, change in eating habits, weight loss, nightmares, talking about a new older friend etc. are some other hints you must watch out for.

Ways To Teach Child The Skills To Prevent Sexual Abuse

We teach our kids a whole lot of things- how to walk, eat, speak, etc. but what is most often ignored is teaching them about body safety. Like it or not, today it is the duty of every parent to teach their kids about the do's and don'ts of body parts. Here's how you can talk to your child about sexual abuse prevention.

  1. Talk about body parts

    Don't shy away from using terms like vagina or penis to your child. They are body parts and kids deserve to know the actual names. Feeling comfortable using these words and knowing what they mean can help a child talk clearly if something inappropriate has happened
  2. Teach them about private body parts

    Tell your kids that private parts are called private because they are not for everyone to see. Explain to them that other than mommy and daddy no one can touch or see them naked. Tell them how their doctor can see them without their clothes because mommy and daddy are there with them and the doctor is checking their body
  3. Body boundaries

    Once you have taught them the parts, teach them about the boundaries one has to follow with regard to touching these parts. Tell them that no one can touch their private parts and no one can ask them to touch someone else's private parts. Parents very often forget the second part of the sentence
  4. Body secrets are not okay

    The child must be aware that if someone is touching them inappropriately and then asking them to keep it a secret, it definitely is not acceptable. Tell your kids that no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay and they should always tell you if someone tries to make them keep a body secret
  5. Have a code word

    As kids grow older, teach them a code word to use in case something inappropriate happens. This can be during a sleepover, in class, outside the home or even at home

So, dear parents, now that you are aware of how to spot signs of sexual abuse, talk to your child about it without any further delay.

Did you like the blog? Did you find it useful? Please share your thoughts, ideas and feedbacks with us in the comments below; we'd love to hear from you!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Mar 20, 2018


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| Mar 21, 2018

thnks for this blog will be careful

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| Mar 21, 2018

very useful blog and good information shared.... thanks

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| Mar 22, 2018

useful info... nice blog .... thanx for sharing

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| Jun 10, 2019


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| Jul 13, 2020

My child is 5 years old and he has tendency to wander off to far places in our society or on road's. Earlier at the age of 2-3 years he has attention deficit issue. We were very scared when we almost lost him a few times, then one of our friends told about Trakbond GPS Tracker for kids ( ) and the company claims it's very safe for small children as radiation is very low, and also it does not have any harmful effects. This gadget helped to save our kids a few times, and we are very satisfied. Trakbond device has Panic button which child can press when they are in danger. This alerts the parent with exact location of the child, so that parents can track the child and help them when child needs help.

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