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Spotting Red Flags: Signs of Teen/Tween Abuse

Teen/tween (Child) abuse is an area that often goes undetected or unnoticed but it is a matter of concern for all parents and caregivers. Every now and then we run into headlines of eve teasing, inappropriate groping, rapes, assaults, and, kidnapping of small kids and teenagers.

What is child abuse?

When a perpetrator intentionally tries to harm a child physically, psychologically, emotionally, and, sexually, the offence is known as child abuse.

A child/minor is at no place to give consent. Hence, if a person tries to mistreat a child/minor inappropriately, it is considered abuse.

If we talk about child sexual abuse, it is not necessary to include physical contact between the perpetrator and the child. Some of the child abuse includes:

  • Inappropriate Groping/Touching with or without clothes

  • Forcing a minor to masturbate or masturbating in the minor’s presence

  • Molesting/Fondling

  • Exhibitionism/exposing self to a minor

  • Sharing or forcing to see pornographic images/movies to a child

  • Any kind of sex with a minor (including oral, anal, or vaginal)

  • Penetrative sex

  • Any kind of sexual activity involving a minor

How can we help our teens/tweens if we have no idea what they are going through? We are sharing a few warning signs to look for in your kid if certain behaviours are making you suspicious.

  • Physical Symptoms: Bruises, marks, or swelling on specific parts of their body, in or around the genitals and anal areas, blood stains on their bedsheets or their undergarments and clothes, scratches, sprains, or broken bones, pain during urination, unexplained or frequent health problems like headache or stomachaches.

  • Verbal Symptoms: Being less talkative, using adult or sexually explicit words or phrases, sudden or unexplainable silence, and increased aggression.

  • Behavioural Symptoms: Rebellious behaviour, withdrawal from family and friends, sadness, lethargy, mood swings, attempts of self-harm, avoiding a particular person, inappropriate sexual behaviours, experimenting with alcohol or drugs, shrinking away or threatened by physical touch or hug, being too clingy, difficulty in concentration and learning, regressive behaviours like bed-wetting, thumb sucking, curled-up while sleeping, etc.

  • Change in Appearance: Wearing baggy or unattractive clothing, avoiding makeup or styling their hair, but in some cases, youth start to adopt a more sexualized manner of dressing.

  • Sleep and Hygiene: Sleep disturbance, regular nightmares, refusal to take a bath or excessive bathing, refusal to change clothes in the presence of the mother/ caregiver or touching their genitals frequently.

Protecting children from abuse is a top priority for parents and caregivers. However, it's important to remember that children may not always verbally express when they are experiencing abuse, but they may show their feelings, fears, and experiences through their actions and behaviours. It's crucial to keep a watchful eye on whom we allow access to our children and educate ourselves on the warning signs of abuse.

We wish you happy parenting!



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