Alameda County Child Abuse
Prevention Council

What is Child Abuse?

It shouldn't hurt to be a kid...

Child abuse is physical--shaking, hitting, beating, burning, or biting a child. Child abuse is emotional--constantly blaming or putting down a child; excessive yelling, shaming. Child abuse is sexual-- incest, any forced sexual activity, exposure to sexual stimulation not appropriate for the child's age. Child abuse is neglect--a pattern of failure to provide for the child's physical needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; a pattern of failure to provide for the child's emotional needs, such as affection, attention, and supervision.

Every one of us can help stop child abuse

Help out a parent under stress with a few hours of child care or assistance with other chores Lend an ear to a parent or child in crisis. Support programs that offer child care, parent education, family counseling, and child safety. Call a Parental Stress program for resources and support

If you suspect that a child has been abused, call:

    Child Abuse Hotline
    Alameda County 510-259-1800
What are the Consequences of Child Abuse?

In an abusive environment, children are often expected to behave as if they are much older than they are. Children are often "punished" for behavior they are too young to control. Abusive parents do not know they have to teach the behavior they want the child to have. Punishing unwanted behavior is not enough. Parents and caretakers often abuse children in response to their own anger and unhappiness. It may have no relationship to what the child is doing at the time

Abused children:
    Believe that they have no value Believe that they cannot affect the world around them with good behavior Feel angry and/or depressed.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT ABUSE Learn about child abuse and neglect Be alert to the "Red Flags." Be prepared to make a report. Do something. Speak up. Support the National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. Advocate for services to help families Ask your local television stations to have non-violent programs for children. Support the victim. Find help for yourself if you are overwhelmed. Empower the community to respond. Take a child of family under your wing. Become a foster parent or grandparent. Encourage your church, social and community organizations to provide outreach to at-risk families. Lobby your community leaders to address the problem. Don't turn your back on a situation. Ask your school to provide prevention education to the children. Talk to your kids about personal safety and body limits. Be sensitive to the needs of troubled or isolated families.

If a child comes to you...
Your job is to simply report what the child tells you, not to investigates the situation. Attempts to investigate may: Tip off the perpetrator and cause them to flee or destroy evidence. Cause a child to retract if they think you don't believe them. Reassure the child that they did the right thing by telling you and they are not to blame. Don't promise them that you won't "tell" Tell the child that what you plan to do to help protect them. Talk with the child if they need to vent- be ready to listen and be supportive Be respectful of the child's need for, or dislike of touching while trying to comfort them… do so with caution and only with the child's permission Consider helping the child get professional counseling Mandated Reporters are not required by law to tell the parent/caretaker that a report has been made. However, one should keep in mind that parents/caretakers are not always the perpetrators and may not be aware that their child exhibits signs of abuse. Find a place to help with your feelings too.

Age Factors to Consider for Preschool Age Children
At higher risk for serious injury. Stories are generally truthful. Don't know abuse is serious…their value of right and wrong is based on family behavior.

Age Factors to Consider for School Age and Teen Children
More prone to self-report abuse. More aware of "normal" family behavior due to exposure to other families. Tend to be protective of substance abuse parents or caretakers- role reversal. Sexual abuse is often disclosed when family incest interferes with normal teenage relationships. Disclosure of abuse may have a "hidden agenda" such as revenge or anger towards parents or caretaker.

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Sexual Abuse and Exploitation---California Penal Code Section 11165.1 Sexual abuse is defined as sexual assault or sexual exploitation of a minor. Rape Statutory Rape Gang Rape (Rape in Concert) Incest Sodomy Oral Copulation Lewd and Lascivious Acts Child Molestation. Penetration of the genital or anal opening, no matter how slight, by any object or body part whether or not there is the emission of semen. This does not include acts performed for a valid medical reason. Sexual contact between the genitals or anal opening of one person and the mouth or tongue of another person. Touching of genital or intimate body parts or the clothing covering them for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. This does not include acts which are normal caretaker responsibilities or for a valid medical purpose. Masturbation in the presence of a child Preparing, selling or distributing child pornography. Child prostitution or a live performance involving obscene sexual conduct with a child.

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation--Federal Guidelines The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexual explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct. The rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.

General Indicators of Sexual Abuse Child reports abuse- this is a big, bold, scary step for the child to take in breaking out of the "conspiracy of silence" and should be taken very seriously. Sexualized behavior, curiosity, or knowledge inappropriate for age Torn, stained, or bloody undergarments Sexually transmitted diseases Pregnancy Genital discharge or infection Trauma or injury to genital or anal area Difficulty in walking, sitting urination or defecation due to genital or anal pain Excessive/compulsive masturbation In boys, excessive concerns about homosexuality or homophobia Sexual victimization of other children Self-destructive behavior or suicide threats Withdrawal or depression Sudden acquisition of money, clothes or gifts Animal abuse Fire setting

Indicators in Younger Children Bed and pants wetting of fecal soiling Eating disturbances Unusual fear of phobias Overly compulsive behavior Inability to concentrate Sleep disturbances Frightened or caretaker or of going home

Indicators in Older Children and Teens Chronic fatigue, depression or apathy Excessive bathing Purposely making themselves unattractive through poor hygiene Poor peer relations and social skills Overly compliant, aggressive, antisocial or delinquent behavior Running away Alcohol or drug use Prostitution or promiscuity Inappropriately seductive behavior Unusual fear of pelvic exams Drop in school performance Chronic absence or tardiness Arrives early at school and stays late to avoid being home Refusal to dress for P.E. Non-participation in activities Fearful of showers or restrooms Fearful of home life Fearful of males Overly self-conscience of body Crying without provocation Fire setting Eating disorders Early marriage to avoid abusive situation

Behaviors that MAY Be Seen in a Sexually Abusive Person Drug or alcohol abuse or other addictive behavior Mood changes Last to go to bed, or up during the night Sexual preoccupation Views child pornography Cruising Exhibitionism Seeks out relationships with children over adults Erratic discipline Prolonging physical contact with children….wrestling, tickling, bathing Walks in on child while bathing or using the toilet Interferes with child's normal friendships Relates to the child with sexual undertones or manner

How Can It Happen? A "conspiracy of silence" is established by perpetrator There is coercion through bribery or threats Progression of contact is made Selfishness- the perpetrator puts their sexual or ego needs before the well-being of the child The child feels helpless The child is confused about their sexuality and feelings The child may be embarrassed and guilt ridden about the activity The child may accept blame for what is happening, feel loyalty to the adult, or be confused about what to do Child "trades" sex for attention and affection The child gives delayed, conflicted and unconvincing disclosure, or describes it using socially acceptable terms The disclosure may be retracted if the child thinks they are not being believed-they are being abused, and now seen as a liar and have lost their credibility

Other Issues with Sexual Abuse Without third party reporting, abuse often goes unreported. The child is trapped in secrecy Offenders rarely self disclose or seek treatment voluntarily Sexual abuse does not require force or lack of consent Sexual abuse tends to recur and escalate over time- it is seldom a one time occurrence. The National Center for Prevention of Child Abuse had found that an abusive relationship lasts an average of 4 years or longer. Most reports are for female victims under the age of 12 Incest is when sexual contact is between blood related family members Intra-familial sexual contact is between family members not related by blood (stepparent, live-in partner, etc) Third party molestation (non-family member) is reported to law enforcement Incest often begins during periods of crises, such as marital problems, financial problems, unemployment, etc Almost half of the sexual abuse offenses occur while the offender in under the influence of drugs or alcohol Incest tends to occur in extremely isolated families Sexual abuse has a strong "cycle of abuse" pattern in the family

Behaviors that May Be Seen in a Sexually Abusive Person Drug or alcohol abuse or other addictive behavior Mood change Last to go to bed, or up during the night Sexual preoccupation Views child pornography Cruising Exhibitionism Seeks out relationships with children over adults Erratic discipline Prolonging physical contact with children…wrestling, tickling, bathing Walks in on child while bathing or using the toilet Interferes with child's normal friendships Relates to the child with sexual undertones or manner

Why does the non-abusing parent often look the other way They maybe in denial that their partner is capable of doing such a thing They may have been sexually abused as a child They may fear that loss of their partner or financial stability They may fear reprisal from partner for confronting the situation

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