Minors in Catawba College Programs Policy Training
Section 2: Training Objectives
After completing this training, you will be able to:
- Protect minor children who participate in activities and programs
- Act as a positive role model and avoid putting yourself in a risky situation
- Successfully pass the policy assessment
The Facts about Sexual Abuse
Most people consider child sexual abuse to be unacceptable behavior. At the same time, one in four girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse before their eighteenth birthday.
Therefore, we have to assume that child sexual abuse is happening to both boys and girls in our community today. Sexual abuse thrives in an environment where adults are inattentive, in denial, or afraid to take action. We must actively work to prevent it. We must take steps to create a safe environment for minors. The earlier that abuse is caught, the better the chance of recovery for the minor.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other. There can be no case of a consensual act between an adult and a minor due to the inherent power dynamic. Forcing, coercing, or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual contact is sexual abuse. However, sexual abuse doesn't always involve bodily contact. If an adult engages in any sexual behavior with a child to meet the adult's sexual interest or needs, it is sexual abuse. Exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, sexting, and other communication in a sexual manner over the phone or internet is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can occur between members of the opposite sex or members of the same sex. Sexual abuse is a crime. Aiding and abetting a sexual offender is also a crime.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical sexual conduct which because of its severity and/or persistence interferes significantly with an individual's work or education, or adversely affects an individual's living conditions. Harassment also occurs when a person uses a position of authority to engage in unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
A warning sign is an opportunity for prevention and a chance for you to recognize a risk to a minor. Sexually abused children may display a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms. While these symptoms do not necessarily indicate that child sexual abuse has happened, they combine to raise your level of concern about the situation. Sometimes there are no warning signs. Warning signs differ by the age of the minor. You should be aware of the following possible warning signs.
Emotional or Behavioral Signs
- Sexual behavior that is not appropriate for the child's age
- Sexual language that is not appropriate for the child's age
- Unexplained anger
- Refusal to be left alone
- Finding reasons not to go home
- Finding reasons to avoid being with a specific person that the minor used to spend time with
- Problems sleeping such as nightmares or sleepwalking
- Bed-wetting or bowel-movement accidents in children who have previously out grown it
- Self-destructive behavior
- Suicidal gestures
- Running away
- Making degrading comments about themselves and considering themselves as "damaged goods"
- Falling grades or a change in school behavior
- Using alcohol or drugs
Portrait of an Abuser
A myth of sexual abuse is that the abusers are usually strangers. On the contrary, most child sexual abusers are known to the victim. The abuser could be a family member, friend of the family, teacher, older youth, or coach. In addition, one third of all child sexual abuse is committed by another child under the age of eighteen. Some abusers are careful and calculated about the process they take to earn the victim's trust. This process of slowly introducing a child to sexual activity is called grooming. These abusers set up the situation so that they can take advantage of the child. They become friends with potential victims and their families. They earn trust and seek time alone with the children. Sometimes they spend time doing what the child wants. Sometimes, they give gifts. Their goal is to spend time with the child in one adult and one child situations. Then, they may threaten or force the child to participate in sexual contact and maintain secrecy. Another kind of abuser is a situational offender. They take advantage of the situation and opportunity to find and abuse a victim. These abusers are impulsive and abuse minors to meet their own sexual or control needs.
The Effects of Abuse
The most damaging effects of child abuse are the emotional effects. Abused children can blame themselves, lack trust, and have difficulties forming relationships into adulthood. Often, these children feel that they are worthless or damaged at their core. As an adult, this may cause the victim to fall short of reaching his or her potential. Also, abused children have trouble regulating their emotions. As they grow into adults, they can struggle with emotions and turn to drugs or alcohol. While not every abused child repeats the cycle as an adult, these children are more at risk for abusing their own children as an adult. The effects of child sexual abuse affect not only the individual, but the community, and the future community.
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