The recent conviction of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is once again putting the spotlight on the problem of child sexual abuse. Experts estimate 80 thousand incidents of sexual abuse of children are reported each year, but it's believed many more incidents go unreported because children are afraid to tell anyone.
"Parents should stress the importance of trust and communication early in the parent-child relationship," says Dr. Nina Kayce, a licensed psychologist at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore, adding "it's never too early to educate your child about sexual abuse and respecting his or her body," Dr. Kayce adds.
Dr. Kayce offers these tips for parents and caregivers to help get the conversation going:
If your child displays some of the following behaviors, it may or may not be a sign of abuse, and should be followed up by your pediatrician or a child psychologist: changes in sleep (sudden nightmares), changes in academic performance, social withdrawal, avoiding a certain person, sexualized behavior, language or knowledge inappropriate for the child's age, just to name a few.
Pictured: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, leaves court in handcuffs after being convicted in his child sex abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts in the sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)