Awareness key in recognizing signs of child abuse

Local groups provides training on how to look for signs of sexual abuse in children

SAN ANTONIO - In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky case and its aftermath, a local group is determined to make sure people know what signs to look for in child abuse victims.

ChildSafe SA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping abuse victims, and educating the public about the issue. 

A training held Friday highlighted what parents and professionals alike should look for in children.

"It's just one of those things that people don't really want to think about," said Kim Abernathy, president and CEO of ChildSafe SA.

Tell-tale signs are numerous, including persistent nightmares, not sleeping or eating enough, and becoming excessively introverted. 

Two of the most egregious signs of abuse, according to experts, are increasingly sexualized behavior and bed-wetting.

Experts said being aware of changes in children is key. Assuming changes are just a part of growing up is done all too often -- sometimes with tragic results.

Parents are encouraged to ask questions.

"'Did something happen to you?'" said Abernathy, listing sample questions. "'Did an adult do something to you that made you feel uncomfortable?'"

When asking those questions, make sure children feel comfortable. 

Abernathy said that unless a child feels safe in answering tough questions, and without fear of repercussions of any kind, he or she will never open up.

"It has to be that whatever the child tells you is OK and you have to assure them you will work through it together," said Abernathy.

For more information on how to protect your children, visit the ChildSafe SA website.


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