Child Sexual Abuse - Recognizing Signs
  • One definition of child sexual abuse is the “use of a child for sexual purposes by an adult or older, more powerful person, including an older child.”  
Although we tend to associate child sexual abuse with touching, child sexual abuse actually can take on many forms, including exposing children to pornographic literature / film, using the child in the production of pornography, communicating with a child via telephone or email in a sexual way, forcing a child to undress, and spying on a child in the bathroom or bedroom.

Victims of child sexual abuse can be either male or female, rich or poor, or any age under 18 years.  Child sexual abuse losses all religious, educational, racial, and socio-economic boundaries.  No individual groups of children are exempt from being victims of child sexual abuse.  

Children who are victims of sexual abuse sometimes make a direct disclosure to a trusted adult regarding their abuse.  However, this often does not happen.  As a result, it is important to be aware of a variety of other signs and symptoms which may indicate that a child is a victim of sexual abuse. 

Some of the symptoms may be:
  • Has difficulty sitting or walking
  • Refuses to change clothes for gym or use the restroom at school or public places
  • Wears many layers of clothing
  • Experiences a sudden change in appetite
  • Becomes anorexic or engages in compulsive eating
  • Exhibits an inability to concentrate
  • Exhibits signs of extreme stress
  • Experiences frequent nightmares
  • Engages in frequent bed wetting
  • Exhibits unusual fear of certain places
  • Exhibits unusual fear of a certain person
  • Exhibits excessive crying
  • Experiences insomnia
  • Engages in self-mutilation
  • Exhibits unusually aggressive behavior towards others, pets, or toys
  • Experiences depression
  • Becomes passive or withdrawn
  • Makes references to an adult friend
  • Runs away
  • Attempts suicide
If a child discloses that she/he has been a victim of abuse, or you have reasonable cause to believe that a child is a victim of abuse, report the alleged abuse as soon as possible to both Child Protective Services (CPS) and law enforcement.  At the time of the report, ask the person who takes the report for her/his name and the report number.  Record the names and the numbers from both reports, write a brief narrative regarding the report, and keep a copy in your files.

By being aware and by listening to our children, we can provide a safe environment for all children in our community. 
(Source:  Duane F. Schafer, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Spokane, PO Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210-1453, (509) 358-7330, http://www.dioceseofspokane.org; printed in the 2013 Family Guide magazine)


What You Can Do
If you suspect that a child is being abused, abandoned or neglected, contact the agencies listed below.

9-1-1  call or text, if this is an Emergency

Crime Check
(509) 456-2233
(Ask the person who takes the report for her/his name and the report number.  Record the name and the number of the report, write a brief narrative regarding the report, and keep a copy in your files.)

Washington Child Protective Services  (CPS)
Spokane County: 
(509) 363-3333
(800) 562-5624 after 4:30 pm and weekends
(Ask the person who takes the report for her/his name and the report number.  Record the name and the number of the report, write a brief narrative regarding the report, and keep a copy in your files.)

Department of Social and Health Services (Washington)
(866) 363-4276
http://www.dshs.wa.gov 

Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center
(509) 624-7273   24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line

Secret Witness
(509) 327-5111
PO Box 1205
Spokane, WA 99210
 
Tip-Line  (anonymous reporting)
(509) 242-8477  
Email:  spdtipline@spokanepolice.org  
This is an anonymous Spokane Police Dept. phone line.  Call to report any crime that is NOT an Emergency.  An officer will call back to verify the information and forward the complaint to the appropriate department within 24 hours; however, after the person has reported and verified the complaint, the caller can remain anonymous. 

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
(800) 926-2588
(208) 332-7205 TDD

Childhelp
(800) 422-4453
Childhelp USA is a non-profit agency which can provide reporting numbers, and has Hotline counselors who can provide referrals.  Childhelp’s programs are designed to help children already affected by child abuse, and prevention programs designed to educate children and aid in prevention.  http://www.childhelp.org 
Local Organizations