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What to know about child sexual abuse in Connecticut

Connecticut residents may find it helpful to learn that the non-profit organization Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services Inc. has put together helpful information for parents and guardians on what sexual abuse is, what signs a child may exhibit, what steps they can take to prevent child sexual abuse and how to help a child who may have experienced it.

According to CSACS, in 90 percent of the cases child sexual abuse occurs at the hands of a close relative, close family friend or someone who the child trusts. It may be difficult to believe, but nearly 25 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys have been sexually assaulted before they reached the age of 18.

First and foremost, it is important to have an understanding of what constitutes child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse involves someone who fondles and touches the private parts of a child or forces a child to touch the private parts of another. Additionally, it also includes knowingly having the child view pornographic materials, pose in suggestive way and, finally, having intercourse with a child.

For a parent or guardian, some indicators may suggest that a child is being sexually abused. These include a change in the child's eating habits, sleep habits, problems with school work such as a drop in grades, fear of specific people or places, unusual attachment to the parent, crying, depression and drug or alcohol abuse. Though these could be signs of other problems the child may be experiencing as well, it is important not to rule out sexual abuse.

It is important for guardians and parents to teach their children at an early age to recognize what is and is not a "safe touch," to say no if they feel uncomfortable, to speak openly about what they have experienced, to foster a safe and respectful environment for them and to listen to what a child has to say and not dismiss it. It is very crucial to never place blame on the child for the abuse.

Source: Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services Inc., "What is Child Sexual Abuse?," Accessed May 18, 2015

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