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Indicators Of Child Sexual Abuse

Sadly, within the context of false allegations of child sexual abuse, partially educated caseworkers combined with poorly defined "indicators" are a potent formula for disaster. To be sure, children in our society are indeed sexually abused. Equally certain is the fact that innocent parties are falsely accused, and moreover, non-abused children are "treated" for abuse that in fact never took place.

The following "indicators" are generally believed to support the presence of child sexual abuse by child protective agencies: A "confession" by the child; Sudden distrust of adults; Not wanting to go someplace; Not wanting to be left somewhere; Sex knowledge unusual for age; Sleeplessness, fears, worry; Bedwetting, masturbation; Sudden loss or gain in appetite; Increased interests in body parts; Wanting to be away from others; Unexplained money or "gifts"; Spending time with older people; Imitating older teens or adults; Wanting approval of older people; Acting out sexual activities; and, Injured sexual body parts.

These "indicators" obviously contain behaviors sometimes found among non-abused children. Understanding that the presence of any of these "indicators" may be used to launch an "investigation" by an agency, and further understanding that the proliferation of these "indicators" in the media is somewhat responsible for an hysterical over-estimation of the prevalence of child sexual abuse, it must be said that in order for an "indicator" to be of any value, it must be "abnormal", that is to say, the presence of the "indicator" must be extremely uncommon. It is therefore necessary to be thoroughly familiar with normal childhood development.

Nichols' book presents a comprehensive exposition of behaviors and manifestations of children from two to eighteen years of age. The presence of a so-called "indicator" of child sexual abuse must be examined against the backdrop of behavior and manifestations "normally" observed during typical childhood development. The viewing of these "indicators" in a vacuum is singularly responsible for the clinical support of a false allegation of child sexual abuse.

Similarly, children who exhibit other pathology may include as part of their disorder one or more of these indicators.

[For complete details, see False Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse: Attorney & Client Desk Reference, Section D: "The `Indicators' Of Child Sexual Abuse"].