Know the Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

(Springfield, MO) -- As the alleged events unfold at Penn State, many parents in the Ozarks are curious about the signs of sexual abuse and how to respond.

Learning book basics is one lesson mom Kami Eddington is glad to explain, but she doesn't look forward to the day she teaches her daughter about people who could hurt her.

"It makes you look at everybody differently."

Eddington says the recent alleged sexual abuse case involving Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky makes it difficult to trust who her daughter is around.

"The kids are so young, look up to these people as role models."

Kim Lowery-Grimm, of the Child Advocacy Center, says many known abusers spend time grooming children and their families.

"They may be in a higher position, or respected position in the community such as a coach, or a trainer, or a volunteer in a different programs."

Dad Trevor Liverpool says it's too early to use the Sandusky case as a learning tool for his two kids, but he is prepared to explain sexual abuse when that day comes. 

"You tell them what the off limit areas are, what constitutes inappropriate behavior, or touching."

Lowery-Grimm says making sure children know it's not their fault and always letting someone know about the abuse is key. Changes in their behavior is clue number one something may have gone wrong.

"May be fear, or anger withdrawing, they may start expressing they don't want to go around a certain person, or go to a certain place any more."

And if your child admits they've been abused, react calmly, then tell police. It's also important to not ask a lot of questions, why didn't you tell me, why didn't you stop that? They're already dealing with so many feelings of shame, or guilt, or embarrassment"

Two thirds of abused children never speak up about the crimes committed against them, all the more reason child advocates say adults must do the talking. 

"Children cannot protect themselves," says Lowery-Grimm. "We have an ethical moral responsibility to intervene and protect children."

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