How To Tell If Your Child Has Been Molested
If you are a loving father or mother then obviously you are interested in the well-being of your children. You may have noticed the behavior of your child changing and you may be worried that something, perhaps molestation is happening to them.
If this is the case then how do you go about finding out if they have or are being molested. Or what is actually happening without causing the child further discomfort or difficulty?
First of all you have to realize is that most children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know well. Frequently it is a member of the family, a close friend or someone in authority that has frequent contact with children.
Who Should Question the Child
We recommend that the mother of the child sit down and ask these questions. A child is more likely going to open up to her than the father, and if by some chance he is involved in the abuse the child will clam up if he is in the room. (Whilst women are known to molest children, the percentage of women abusers is very low.)
If you are a single father, and suspect something, then obviously you will be the one asking the questions. Unless you have a close female relative that can be trusted.
When you first sit the child down, make sure that it is in complete privacy and that your child feels secure. Also make sure they understand that while you're asking them questions, they are not in trouble in any way whatsoever. You may need to continually reinforce this, as children have a tendency to take any serious comments from an adult as meaning that they have done something wrong.
What Questions To Ask
Depending upon how old the child is, the initial comments should be a definition of what constitutes private areas. For example you could say to the child: "You do know that between your legs is a private area, don't you?" And so forth.
The next question should be asked as simply as possible using as little emotional expression as possible. Just ask them if anyone besides themselves has touched them in their private area. (This does not mean this is the only indication of child molestation.)
It is important to include the comment of "besides themselves", because this gives them ownership of their own bodies. It also tells them that there is nothing wrong if they have touched themselves.
Ask questions including the touching of the chest and the bottom. Even though these areas can be touched in a non sexual way in a younger child by a family member, it does not hurt to clarify instances.
Another question you might want to ask, is "has anyone asked you to touch their private parts" or "to stroke their body anywhere".
Ask "has anyone asked you to show them your private parts".
Ask gently "has anyone asked you to look at their private parts".
There are other questions, however you need to be extremely careful, for example if your child is young, needs supervision when bathing, of course they are going to be seen naked. Some families belong to a nudist colony, or they shower communally. Many families "chain shower" to conserve water in water restricted areas or because they are environmentally conscious.
It is only when the body is sexualised that it becomes a problem. A person nude sunbathing at the beach, does not qualify as someone showing their body to your child. Use common sense, and remember that you do not want to start your child down the road of paranoia.
Don't Falsely Accuse Anyone of Child Molestation
Another serious repercussion of questioning incorrectly, is an innocent victim can be accused falsely of child molestation, a crime punishable by prison. Even when proved innocent, the reputation of this person comes into question. A slur like this can cause great damage for the rest of their life.
If you feel this is not as important as your childs safety, think again.
Put yourself into this position, what would happen if you were accused falsely of molestation by another parent. What would it do to your reputation? This sticks for life, even if innocent, the suspicion will always remain.
Religion And The Body
If you are religious, a byproduct is that you may feel that the naked body and sex are to be equated. If that is the case, we encourage you to read your religious books again and perhaps speak with one of your leaders to have the matter made clear.
As an example, in the bible, it states that God covered Adam and Eve after their expulsion from Eden, but nowhere does it actually state that nudity equates to sex. You can easily teach modesty and bodily self respect without linking it with sexuality.
Even if you feel that nudity equates to sexuality and you cannot seem to dislodge the feeling in yourself, you do not need to pass on these guilt feelings to the child.
Child Easily Persuaded With Repercussions
Above all things, remember that children are often easily persuaded by adults and "questioning" without being sure you are asking non leading questions can cause many problems. It can also lead to false accusations.
Children want to please, and they want your praise. If you ask leading questions, they may give you the answers they think you want. As you tell them how well they are doing, it makes them happy and wanting to please you even more. This can have devastating effects as can be demonstrated by The McMartin Trial.
Also, guilt in all of it's forms (yours and the childs) should be avoided at all costs. Even if the child has never been molested, you can screw up his or her life with guilt. It has been shown that in some cases where a child falsely accused, (due to external pressure and leading questions,) they suffered effects of molestation in adult life, even though it never took place.
If your child feels guilty because he or she has touched themselves, then they will simply not tell you anything at all and the questions will be pointless. Make it clear to them that their body belongs to them.
Set Your Feelings Aside
If you have strong feelings that self touching is wrong, you have to put that aside for now. This conversation is not the time for instructions on the correctness or incorrectness of masturbation in any way shape or form. You are trying to get the truth of whether your child has been sexually abused or not. Do not allow your feelings to stop you from protecting your child from sexual abuse.
If there seems to be some hesitancy in the answer, without changing your emotional tone, simply ask: "who has been touching you there?" And wait quietly for the answer. If they do not respond and they are looking down with their eyes then ask the question again.
If it turns out that no one has touched them, or asked to be touched, be happy and show them that you love them. Do not be over enthusiastically relieved, because if you do and you have cause to ask them again at some time they will simply answer in the negative to please you.
If Molested Who Do You Contact
If they answer positively however, do not confront the person who has done anything to them. Immediately contact the police and do not speak to anyone else about it whatsoever. This is very important. The police have special interrogators who can question children correctly without eliciting expectations.
Remain calm and make sure your child understands they have done nothing wrong. They are not in trouble in any way. Make sure to smile a lot at them, they need you to be strong and comforting.
Even if your child has answered in the positive, it is still possible that nothing untoward has happened. This is why it is very important to get a skilled child interrogator to find out the truth.
Whilst you may feel angry and the need to immediately confront the offender, this would be a very stupid move. You may also feel the need for comfort from friends or family and the need to tell them all about what you have just discovered. But this is about your child, not about you, so remain calm and do what is right for your child.
Because of legal ramifications, you should contact the police first.