Be Aware

herownfatherThe Warning Signs of Abuse in Children

  • Behavioral changes, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearfulness & excessive crying.
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed or other sleep disturbances.
  • Acting out with inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters.
  • A sudden acting out of aggressive or rebellious behavior.
  • School or behavioral problems.
  • Changes in toilet-training habits.
  • A fear of certain places, people or activities.
  • Bruises, rashes, cuts, limping; multiple or poorly explained injuries.
  • Sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children / siblings to behave sexually.
  • New words for private body parts.
  • Cutting or burning herself or himself as an adolescent.
  • Some children who are molested may not show any of these symptoms. Some child molesters groom their victims so successfully that the children love them and even try to protect them.
Portrait of a sad liitle girl close-up
Portrait of a sad liitle girl close-up

How Does it Happen?

  • A predator will win your child’s love and trust with treats, attention, and “love.” If he or she is not getting love and attention from you, they will get it from someone else.
  • Predators convince children they are responsible for their behavior.
  • They make your child think no one will believe them if they tell.
  • They tell your child you will be disappointed in them for what they have done “with” them.
  • They warn your child they will be punished if they tell.
  • They may threaten your child with physical violence against them, you, a pet, or other loved ones.
  • They will shame your child into keeping the abuse secret.
  • They may make the child feel sorry for them.
  • They will do anything and say anything to keep assaulting your child and to keep your child from telling.
  • Children usually keep sexual abuse a secret because of the shame and guilt they feel. They may also fear that no one will believe them if they talk about the abuse or they may have been threatened by their abuser not to tell.

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Monitor / Surveil Children

Lure Child

Groom Child

Sexually Abuse Child

Discard Child

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A Child Predator:

Father comforts a sad child. Problems in the family
Father comforts a sad child. Problems in the family
  • May work or volunteer at businesses that cater to children. Child predators commonly seek relationships with adults who have children in the home. Single parent families make particularly good targets.
  • Can be of any race, have any religious belief, and have any sexual preference
  • Could be a parent, step-parent, relative, friend, teacher, clergyman, baby-sitter, anyone.
  • Is likely to be a stable, employed, respected member of the community.
  • May “accidentally” expose himself / herself or walk in on children unexpectedly.
  • May use situations like tucking kids in at night to touch them sexually.
  • May have told your child “this is normal; it is what all fathers do.
  • May be so good at manipulating children that your child may try to protect them.
  • Can be a man, woman, married or single.
  • Can be a child, adolescent, or adult.
  • Is probably well liked by you and your child.

Massachusetts Statistics

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  • In 2003 Massachusetts had the third highest rate of child abuse among the 50 states, with 22 out of every 1,000 children being a victim. ~ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • In 2007 Massachusetts had the highest rate of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in the country. The rate was twice the national average. ~ U.S Department of Health and Human Services
  • In 2008 Massachusetts had the highest rate of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in the country. The rate was twice the national average. ~ U.S Department of Health and Human Services
  • In 2009 Massachusetts had the highest rate of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in the country. The rate was twice the national average. ~ U.S Department of Health and Human Services
  • On average, 290 children were reported abused each day. ~ Massachusetts Department of Social Services (2003)
  • On average there are more than 30 sex offenders per city and town in Massachusetts.

National Statistics

Worried little girl in an urban setting looking into the camera.
Worried little girl in an urban setting looking into the camera.
  • The average pedophile has 244 victims in their lifetime. ~ National Institute of Mental Health
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse, while children who have been sexually abused are 3.80 times more likely to develop drug addictions. ~ National Institute on drug abuse 2000 report
  • Only 1 to 2 percent of child sexual abusers are strangers to their victims. ~ Prevention Child Abuse America
  • Sex offenders are 4.5 times more likely than other criminals to be re-arrested for sexual assault. ~ Massachusetts Family Institute
  • Nearly 4 in 10 violent sex offenders serving time in state prisons reported that their victims were age 12 or younger. ~ U.S. Department of Justice

Helpful Links

  • Massachusetts Most Wanted Sex Offenders

How many level 2 and 3 sex offenders are in your city or town?

  • Search for sex offenders

What do you do if your child is abused?

Woman crying while having a sad phone call
Woman crying while having a sad phone call
  • If your child discloses abuse to you, remain calm, listen, and reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that you are glad they told you.
  • Call your local police department or child abuse hotline and report the abuse. By failing to notify the authorities you may unwittingly lead to the abuse of other children. Do not try to handle the situation yourself. It is crucial to your child that you report abuse and pursue prosecution.
  • Taking the necessary steps to get the abuser off the streets provides children with a sense of security, as well as the opportunity to get justice.
  • In order to avoid confusion, anxiety or guilt, children should never overhear conversations about their disclosure. Likewise, you should seek support and comfort for yourself where your child can’t see or hear what you say.
  • The prognosis for healing after being molested is better for children who are supported and believed when they disclose. Listen to your kids, and pay attention to their behavior.

Questions and Answers

little blue bunny newborn baby
little blue bunny newborn baby