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Listen carefully to what your children aren't saying

As a parent, you dedicate yourself to protecting your children. From the time they are young, you teach your kids not to talk to strangers, comfort them when someone bullies them and kiss their owies when they get hurt playing.

When it comes to leaving your children in the care of another adult, you choose wisely - allowing only people you trust to be alone with your kids. But no matter how hard you try to do what is right for your children, you could unknowingly put them in harm's way. But how do you recognize the signs of abuse?

Children's behaviors may indicate sexual abuse

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is all too common among those who you might trust with your children. News reports often cover abusive activity in daycare centers, churches and schools.

But children do not always report maltreatment. Some children are too young to inform you about what is happening. Others may feel shame or fear punishment for telling a secret.

Although children do not always communicate trauma, they typically exhibit signs that something is not right. Some of the behaviors which could indicate sexual abuse in children include:

  • Bed wetting
  • Thumb sucking
  • Nightmares
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Hesitation when you leave them with caregivers

If your children express concerns about their ability to trust you, it may suggest someone is grooming them for continued abusive activity through threats, lies and blame. And if you notice signs of physical trauma, remove your children from others' care and seek help immediately.

Encouraging your children to draw, play or talk with you can provide insight into what is going on when they are not in your presence. And through the help of licensed professionals, you can fight to hold abusers accountable while beginning the healing process for your children.

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