Hesperian Health Guides

Why is my child at risk for sexual abuse?

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 12: Preventing Sexual Abuse > Why is my child at risk for sexual abuse?

Sometimes adults feel like they have the right to use a child sexually. Sometimes older children do not realize they are doing something bad.

All children are at risk for sexual abuse because they trust adults and older children, and depend on them for care. This makes it difficult to say 'no' to them. Very young children also have less developed thinking skills and do not know what is acceptable adult behavior.

Children with disabilities are especially at risk for sexual abuse because they must often depend on other people for care even more than children who do not have disabilities. In addition, children who are blind or cannot see well:

  • may have less developed communication skills. This can make it difficult for them to understand what you say about their safety. It can also make it harder for you to understand them if they try to tell you about abuse.
  • may have less information about their bodies, and the differences between boys' and girls' bodies, than children who can see.
  • miss important information, like a look on someone's face, that can sometimes help children learn safe social behavior.

Not all people who abuse children sexually use physical force. They can use:

  • persuasion and sweet talk
  • tempting treats
  • threats and bullying

The result of the abuse is still violent and damaging to a child.

3 women sitting together and talking.
I want Mishiri to be safe, and I worry about her. But I have no idea how to teach her to protect herself from people who want to hurt her or use her. My mother never talked to me about this.
I know what you mean. I feel uncomfortable, myself. But I know it is really important.
Let’s practice talking about it with each other. Then we will feel better prepared to talk to our children.