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Sex abuse of a child is a heinous crime. One in nine girls and one in fifty-three boys under 18 experience sex abuse by an adult. Most often, abusers are people children already know; 90% of child sex abuse victims know their abuser. They can be neighbors, friends, coaches, teachers, or even clergy members..

If you or your child has been sexually abused, you’re not alone. The legal team at Wagner Reese is here to support you. Our Indianapolis sex abuse lawyers have experience working with child sex abuse survivors, and we will help you seek justice.

What is Child Sex Abuse?

Child sex abuse is defined as any sexual activity with a minor. In Indiana, children under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to any sexual conduct. Child sex abuse may involve physical sex acts, digital penetration, fondling, and sex trafficking.

Where Child Sexual Abuse Happens

Child sex abuse can happen anywhere. Abuse is common in places children gather, like schools and daycare centers, churches, and social and athletic clubs.

●     Daycare

With many parents working full time, about one quarter (24.3%) of children under 5 receive care outside the home. This includes daycare facilities, preschools, and private childcare arrangements. Of child sex abuse perpetrators charged, about 20% were involved in providing care for young children.

●     Schools

Sex abuse in K-12 schools has been on the rise since 2015. Reports of sexual violence rose by 50% over two years from approximately 9,600 cases in the 2015-2016 school year to just under 15,000 cases in 2017-2018.

It’s not just teachers and school staff that abuse children; one in seven incidents of child sex abuse is committed by older juveniles between 3 PM and 7 PM on school days and often on school property.

●     Church

Sex abuse in churches is an ongoing issue occurring nationwide, and Indiana is no exception. Sex abuse can happen as a result of grooming or even as part of religious ceremonies and rituals performed by clergy.

The Archdiocese of Indiana has compiled a list of its clergy accused of credible sex abuse of minors which lists the names of the clergy members and the dates and locations where they worked in Indiana.

There are 28 priests accused of sexually abusing at least 100 survivors in the Indianapolis area.

●     Social and Athletic Clubs

By the age of 18, 6-13% of all competitive athletes experience sex abuse or assault. In these cases of abuse, 98% of the perpetrators were coaches, teachers, or instructors. Youth athletes have an approximate 1 in 4 chance of being a victim of sex abuse.

Coaches of children’s sports and social activities are often left unsupervised with children, and most abuse happens in a one-on-one environment. About 20% of youth coaches are fired due to inappropriate sexual behavior.

Warning Signs

It’s not always easy to see when a child is being abused. Abusers go to great lengths to conceal their actions, and child survivors of sex abuse don’t react to abuse the same way adults do. Watch for these warning signs:

●     Physical Signs

Any trauma like bruising or swelling in a child’s genital area could be a sign of abuse. Signs of bleeding, or tears in the child’s underwear and clothing could also be indications of sex abuse.

Children suffering from sex abuse may get urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If a child experiences pain or itching in their genitals, they should be thoroughly examined by their pediatrician.

●     Behavioral Signs

You may notice a child’s behavior changing if they have suffered sex abuse, such as becoming quieter and more secretive when they were once talkative. An abused child may exhibit regressive behaviors like thumb sucking, bedwetting, and more frequent nightmares.

Sexually abused children may change their hygiene routine. They may bathe more or less frequently than before or not want to undress in front of others. A child experiencing sex abuse might have sexual knowledge or engage in sexual behaviors that are inappropriate for their age.

●     Emotional Signs

Sexually abused children may experience emotional changes. Be on the lookout for changes in eating habits or unexplained stomach aches. An abused child may worry excessively or grow more fearful of people. They may display symptoms of depression, anxiety, or signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Children suffering from sex abuse may also lose interest in people and activities they used to enjoy.

Where to Go for Help

You may suspect abuse if you’ve noticed any of these warning signs in a child. First, talk to the child using language they understand instead of clinical phrases. If sex abuse occurred or is suspected, you need to report it.

In Indiana, all citizens are legally obligated to report any known or suspected cases of child abuse. Health care providers in Indiana are required by law to photograph any visible trauma on the child.

If you suspect your child is a victim of sex abuse, get help right away. Consider hiring an attorney to help gather evidence for your child’s case. Our Indiana legal team will support you through this difficult time. Contact our attorneys at Wagner Reese today for a confidential, free consultation of your child’s case. Your child’s well-being is our priority, and we will help you fight for the justice you and your family deserve.