Child Sexual Abuse Awareness

It’s one of the most difficult topics to discuss, yet a necessary one. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is happening in communities across the nation including our own. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center defines child sexual abuse as when a child (ages 0 – 17) is exposed to sexual acts or behavior.  It is important to note that in most incidences, the abuser is not a stranger to the child.  Approximately 90% of children who are victims of sexual violence know their abuser, within this 30% are family.  Additionally, 60% of child victims are abused by a person the family trusts.  

This devastating crime has long term effects on the children that are victimized, which can range from psychological, behavioral, and physical damage. Psychological impact may include depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other trauma-related concerns. Behavioral impact can include suicidal ideation, promiscuity, and other inappropriate sexual behavior, running away, being targeted for sex trafficking, drugs/alcohol use, aggressive/violent behavior, poor performance in school, truancy, defiant behavior, criminal behavior, and other maladaptive behavior.  Physical impact may include STDs, HIV/AIDS, child pregnancy, inhibiting the child to have children as an adult, and other health-related issues.  In addition, sexual abuse is often associated with violent behavior that physically hurts children such as broken bones, strangulation, etc.  One incident of sexual abuse on a child has a long-lasting damaging impact on their life.  No child should ever suffer at the hands of an abuser.  

There are steps parents/guardians can take to help protect their children.  These include open communication with your child regarding sexuality, sexual abuse, their bodies, and boundaries.  Use correct terminology for body parts so that everyone is on the same page.  Discuss “good touch” and “bad touch,” which includes appropriate touch where, why, and by whom.  

Develop a plan with your child on what they would do if someone ever approached them or touched them inappropriately, and also what they would do if they knew a friend was being sexually abused.  Be prepared to have this conversation without judgment so that your child can free to talk with you.  

Being aware of who your child interacts with is just as important as having open communication with them.  If your child is in school, camp, or other organized activities, discuss what steps that group has in place to prevent child sexual abuse.  Also, keep in mind that the internet and gaming communities are areas where children are lured to meet abusers.  It is important to use parental controls, know which sites your child is on and whom they are communicating with, and to be present when they are engaging in such activities.  

Empowering you and your family with knowledge on child sexual abuse goes a long way in prevention!  For more information, contact or go to the following:

Miramar Police Department Victim Services Unit:
(954) 602-4130

Nancy J. Cotterman Center: (954) 357-5775

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: