Question: Until recently, my four year old was a happy, playful and generally good-natured preschooler. Then, almost overnight, he became an irritable, clingy, constantly crying child prone to fits of rage. He says he doesn’t want to play with certain children anymore. His grandmother, a retired preschool teacher, thinks he may have been molested. What are the signs?
Answer: Children who have been molested often display a sudden shift in behavior that is not related to physical illness or other emotional disruption in their life like a divorce or loss of a loved one. They may also have physical signs of molestation but, in some cases, they may not. It’s important to be able to distinguish between actual signs of molestation or symptoms of other problems. But, knowing what the indicators of sexual abuse are can help.
Here are seven signs your child may have been or is being molested:
- Sudden change in behavior. Much like you have described, this can include extreme mood swings, excessive crying and aggression.
- Withdrawal. A once outgoing child may suddenly seem depressed, become withdrawn, and, in some cases, even be afraid to interact with others.
- Increased awareness of sexuality. A child may suddenly be excessively sexual for their age, frequently touching themselves or others in inappropriate places and times, imitating sexual acts they did not see at home or on television or abnormal interest in playing sexual games with other children.
- Sudden bed wetting. A child who never wet the bed may begin doing so regularly.
- Night terrors and sleeping difficulty. A once peaceful sleeper, your child suddenly begins to have routine nightmares, sees monsters in their room, has a very hard time getting to sleep and may insist on sleeping with you.
- Bruises or other unexplained injuries. Your child has sudden bruises, abrasions and/or complains of pain or irritation in their private areas.
- Refusal to go to school or with certain people. A child who was once happy to go to school or to visit certain people may suddenly appear too frightened to and may throw a tantrum if they must.
While any one or combination of several of these signs could be indicators of something else, another trauma or physical illness, presence of most or all of these signs may indicate your child may have been molested. If you see these indicators in your child and believe your child has been molested, seek professional help from your doctor, child mental health professionals and law enforcement.
Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if you have any questions about child molestation in Georgia.