What Parents Need to Know About Child Sex Abuse

Over the course of the past few weeks several allegations of child sex abuse have erupted at two top universities. Both Syracuse and Penn State are facing a scandal that caused several members of their athletic teams to be fired.

Newschannel 6 is looking out for you, getting much needed information on what you can do to make sure your child is not a victim and what signs parents need to look for. Patsy's House is a Children's Advocacy Center and it sees hundreds of cases every year dealing with children of abuse. Officials there see this happen all the time, especially during the holidays when children are left with unknown relatives, but there are tips they have to share for parents.

On Tuesday afternoon Texoma mother Laura Fleming took her two children out to play at Lucy Park, always keeping a watchful eye.

"I never let them go outside anymore because you just never know who's lurking around," she said.

And she has every reason to be protective.

"One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18," said Keri Goins, Executive Director of Patsy's House.

She says only about 10 percent of children who are sexually abused actually tell someone, often they bottle it up inside and act out with sudden mood swings or resort to child-like behavior.

"Maybe nightmares, bed wetting, basically reverting back to some behaviors they might have had in childhood for comfort."

That's why she advices parents to talk with your children once they become verbal.

"It's very important that you talk with your children about their body parts and be able to communicate with you about their body parts because they need to be able to tell you if they're being hurt when they're being touched," said Goins.

For mother Laura Fleming child abuse is something that will always remain in the back of her mind, but she is comforted knowing that she's taken safety measures.

"You have to take precautions with your kids."

In Texas a professional, meaning teachers, doctors, daycare employees and others are required to report child abuse within 48 hours or they can face a possible misdemeanor or state jail felony charges.

Child abuse hotline 24 hours a day; 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

Behaviors You  May See in a Child or Adolescent

*Nightmares or other sleep problems without explanation

*Seems distracted or distant at odd times

*Sudden changes in eating habits

*Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal

*Leaves "clues" to provoke discussion about sexual issues

*Talks about older friend and suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason

*Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad

Signs More Typical of Younger Children

*An older child behaving younger (bed-wetting or thumb sucking)

*Has new words for private body parts

*Resists removing clothes when appropriate times

*Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games

*Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal

*Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs More Typical in Adolescents

*Self-injury (cutting, burning)

*Inadequate personal hygiene

*Drug or alcohol abuse

Patsy's House is also looking for people who want to help bring joy to children during the holidays. Anyone wishing to adopt a child by donating a gift is asked to contact them at (940) 322-8890.

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.