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Twin Cedars’ Ask the Experts: Spotting signs of child abuse

Dear Expert,

As the father of two boys, I want to be well-informed. I also coach and want to be the best coach I can be. I understand that when a child is sexually abused there are potential signs. Would you indicate what these may be?

Sincerely,

A Concerned Coach and Father

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Dear Dad & Coach,

First, thanks for writing in and asking this question. I believe you are requesting info that would benefit many other Dads and Coaches. Please understand that in some sexually abused children there are no signs whatsoever. However, two groups: Prevent Child Abuse America in their “Recognizing Child Abuse: What Parents Should Know” and Stop it Now! “Warning signs in children and adolescents of possible sexual abuse” indicate the following.

• Physical signs are not common. However, when physical signs are present, they may include bruising, bleeding, redness and bumps or scabs around the mouth, genitals or anus. Urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases and abnormal vaginal or penile discharge are also potential signs.

• Other physical problems such as anxiety, chronic stomach pain or headaches may occur.

• Emotional and behavioral signals are more common. Some of these are “too perfect” behavior, withdrawal, fear, depression, unexplained anger and rebellion.

• Nightmares, bed-wetting, failing grades, cruelty to animals, bullying, being bullied, fire setting, running away and self-harm of any kind may be signs.

• Sexual behavior and language that are not age appropriate can be red flags.

• Use of alcohol or drugs at an early age can be a sign.

I have included the websites of the above organizations for your future reference: www.preventchildabuse.org and www.stopitnow.org.

Please know that if you reach out to Mike Angstadt, 706-298-5050, or Kim Adams, 706-298-5064, at Twin Cedars, either of these individuals can schedule a training for parents, coaches, church members and other interested adults.

The 2 to 2 ½ hour training in Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children would enable you to recognize and react responsibly, should you recognize these signs in a child you know. In addition, you would be empowered and able to develop your own personal prevention plan.

With Children our Focus,

Mike Angstadt

Ask an expert

Twin Cedars staff

Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services may be contacted at 706-298-0050. Anyone who wants to submit a question to be answered in this column may send it to Twin Cedars, Attn: Mike Angstadt, PO Box 1526, LaGrange, GA 30241.