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It’s likely you came to this page because you’re worried that your child has been, or might in the future be molested. You want a specific formula to tell you when something has happened. Unfortunately, there is no such formula.

We do have 2 wonderful books you can read to your child, which are designed to uncover sexual abuse or any other things which might be troubling your child. They are listed below, and can be found in the disclosure books section of our online kids page. Shadow Story & Tell Me Little Bear.

Signs & Symptoms
It is with extreme reservation that we give parents this list. In the past, ‘symptom sheets’ have been grossly abused and used to create false accusations. They have created panic in parents who observed one or more of these symptoms. These are guidelines only, and many of these symptoms may be present in non-abused children, for any number of reasons which are no cause for alarm.

Children 2 years and under:

  • Urinary and bowel problems
  • Fretful behavior
  • Inappropriate fear of adults
  • Lacerations of sex organ/anus
  • Fear of being abandoned.
  • Excessive crying
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Bleeding, discharge or odors from sex organs


Toddlers and Preschool

  • Fear of a particular adult or specific places
  • Sex play with toys
  • Lacerations of sex organs
  • Bleeding, discharge, or odors from sex organs
  • Advanced knowledge of detailed adult sexual activity
  • Sexual play or acting out that is inappropriate for his/her age
  • Increase in genital play
  • Fear of refusing to do something an adult asks
  • Sleep disturbances / talking in their sleep (Many children talk in their sleep, it’s what they talk about that’s important. They may say things like “Please, No” or “I don’t want to.” If you start hearing things like that then you should start investigating further.


School age children

  • Presence of a sexually transmitted disease
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Problems in school
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Role confusion
  • Eating disorders
  • Feeling overly responsible for family or younger siblings
  • Excessive masturbation



  • Drugs and / or alcohol problems
  • Pregnancy
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor self image
  • Presence of a sexually transmitted disease


About the only thing on this list that will definitely indicate sexual abuse is the presence of a sexually transmitted disease or other physical problems around the child’s genitalia. Genital herpes and other forms of sexually transmitted diseases cannot be present in children without having had sexual contact. Just as importantly, it isn’t the presence of these symptoms, but the sudden breakout of such conditions that should raise flags. Once again, this could be caused by any number of things; trouble at school, divorce, family turmoil, etc.

How to tell if your child has been sexually abused:
The following books are designed to help parents probe children ages 3-9 about their experiences in a non-intrusive, non-suggestive way that poses a minimal risk of triggering a false allegation:

Tell Me Little Bear  A printable PDF

Shadow Story (coming soon)

More Information Abuse Prevention:


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