If a child does reveal something concerning, believe the child. Reassure him/her that he/she has done the right thing in telling you and that what happened is absolutely not their fault. Call CPS (800) 252-5400 or local law enforcement to report your concerns.
Please do not interview children or contact the alleged offender—report your suspicions and let the appropriate authorities investigate.
Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent or guardian that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm. Physical abuse also includes failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child.Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.
The leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent or guardian of the child.Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.
Inflicting mental or emotional injury to a child, and/or causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning.Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.
Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of indecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault; failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child; compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct; and causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene or pornographic.Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.
The following are signs commonly associated with abuse, but they are not absolutes. This list is not a checklist but a guide to help identify abuse when it is present.
Abusers devise a thorough plan to manipulate the child and his/her family. By manipulating the child and his/her family, the abuser grooms the child and the family to gain trust. The abuser now uses his/her relationship with the family to take advantage of one-on-one time with the child. Once the victim has been groomed, it becomes difficult for a child to escape abuse or feel comfortable telling someone about the abuse. The grooming has created a sense of loyalty from the child to the abuser; in approximately 95% of abuse cases, the child knew and trusted their abuser.
Grooming is when a perpetrator builds a relationship with a child and builds trust. Grooming makes it difficult to escape the abuse and keeps the child from telling, as he/she likes the person and feels loyalty to him/her. It makes the child feel that it is his/her fault. At times, power and authority is used as a tool.
It is important to recognize when grooming may be occurring; once a child is groomed they internalize the abuse as their own fault, making the possibility of them telling someone minimal. Some signs of grooming to look for:
Perpetrators downplay the defenses of children by explaining they were merely playing a "game". Abuse usually begins with touching and kissing and progresses to more severe sexual activity. The perpetrator often creates names for the child's and his/her own genitals to lessen the child's alarm at what is happening.
Abusers manipulate children into keeping the abuse a secret. Children feel helpless to disclose the abuse, due to the fact that the abuser has told them many reasons why the child shouldn't tell.
Some reasons why a child would not tell include:
Some signs to look for in a child suffering from abuse are:
It is important to note that many times children and adolescents display no symptoms (over 1/3 of confirmed cases). For this reason, it is important to do whatever you can to prevent and educate your children about abuse. Talk to your children about "welcome" and "unwelcome" touches. Empower them to say "no" and what to do in uncomfortable situations. They should know to tell you or another trusted adult if someone has made them uncomfortable. If you can't see the symptoms of abuse, giving your child the opportunity for open dialogue can make all the difference in preventing and treating sexual abuse.
Common mental health issues that plague children include:
Children rarely lie about abuse. Only 2-8% of allegations are false; therefore the overwhelming majority of true allegations beg you as a parent to believe your child. Additionally, questions of a child's credibility arise when court cases involving divorce and child custody are involved. We urge you to always believe your child and follow through with the next step of reporting.
It’s never too late to start receiving services. Please call our main line at 214.818.2600 to schedule an intake.
Yes. DCAC provides on-call services for families in crisis. Please call 214.818.2600.
Many children are able to graduate successfully from therapy, but may need to come back as they enter into a new developmental stage. This is normal and expected. Please feel free to call our main line to talk to a therapist about whether not your child should return to therapy.
Counseling is not necessary in all cases of abuse, but it can be very helpful for many children. Although sometimes parents feel they would like their child to just forget about what happened and move on, this may actually increase the stress on a child. When the situation is handled in a direct and sensitive way, the negative effects on the child can be reduced. With consistent attendance, most children are able to successfully complete therapy over the course of a few months.