To help parents identify sexual abuse, our lawyers in Miami, Florida, recommend monitoring children for red flags such as withdrawal or sexual behavior during play.
MR. HERMAN: And then the next question is, "Okay, there's a red flag; what do I do?" And this is the most important message of all to the parents. The answer is you err on the side of caution. You err on the side of caution because if you err on the side of caution what's the worst thing that's happened? Oh, you've taken your child away from an adult who may be a nice person and really wants to just be in your child's life in a positive way? Yeah, well you've insulted that person, maybe.
But if you don't err on the side of caution and you're wrong, then what's happened? Your child has become a victim. And when you think of it that way the choice is very easy. So again, it's about looking out for red flags.
And you're also educating our kids. You know, it's important to let kids know and to who they can trust and who they can't. And that's difficult because what you're telling your child is that there may be people in their lives, could be a relative, could be someone that they deal with on a daily basis that it's not okay, necessarily, to do something or go along with something that person's telling them to do. But as parents we have to be watching and listening and being aware of who's with our child.
When a child's abused typically the parents aren't going to hear about it from the child. It's not a thing kids typically come home and talk about. And so as a parent there's certain behavioral changes that you might observe. You know, we look for things in kids where a kid's acting differently. A lot of times you'll see a child who's been abused begin to engage in sexual behaviors, acting out sexually in different ways. Doll play may be more sexual. They may be using words, sexual words that's not appropriate and you have to ask where they're learning those words from. They may be acting out sexually with other kids, or with other adults. You may see a loss of that innocence in a child; that's one thing.
Two, the child may become more withdrawn. The child may not want to go to a particular place. And so if the kid doesn't want to go to school or doesn't want to go to band practice or doesn't want to go to a sports league, look into that. Why? Ask yourself why. Try to talk to your child about that and see why all of a sudden they don't want to do something that maybe they did in the past.
So behavioral changes is critical for a parent, again, being aware, watching what's going on with your child and how is your child acting.