Sexual abuse and assault can be difficult topics to discuss. Learning about sexual abuse/assault, being able to recognize potential warning signs, knowing how to respond and being aware of resources can help.
At what age should you talk to your child about sexual abuse? It’s best to start talking as early as possible, using age-appropriate conversations. Here are the basics for parents and caretakers.
It's important to identify the signs of sexual abuse and abusive behaviors, so that abuse can be stopped as soon as possible — or before anyone is harmed. Warning signs are often seen in concerning behaviors of children, teens and adults. Being able to recognize these behaviors can help you respond appropriately.
If a child or teen tells you they have been sexually abused or you suspect a child is being abused, call 9-1-1 or child protective services. If you are concerned there may be abuse happening to a child or in a family, call child protective services or seek professional help.
If you are concerned that an adult has been assaulted or an adult discloses sexual abuse, remember this: stay calm, listen compassionately, offer emotional support and offer to connect them with professional support. Reporting to the police is the victim’s choice. However, visiting the hospital for an exam (i.e., rape kit) as soon as possible preserves vital evidence if and when the victim decides to report to police.
Sexual abuse affects everyone: all ages, all races and ethnicities, in all areas of the country. Learning the facts about sexual abuse is one way to raise awareness and identify prevention strategies to increase safety.
Sex offender registries allow police and others in the criminal justice system track those individuals convicted of a sex offense. Public sex offender registries inform the public about registered sex offenders’ residences, school enrollment, employment and other information.
Once you know how sex offender registries work and what to do with registration information, you can learn more about how to keep you, your family and community safe.