For Your Family: Child Sexual Abuse

April 23, 2012 10:37:58 AM PDT
In this "For Your Family," ABC7 covers a very serious and important topic: the warning signs of one of the most under-reported crimes in the country, sexual abuse. The victims are children who suffer in silence.

Visiting Monday was the Executive Director Char Rivette of Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, a non-profit involved in child abuse investigations in Chicago.

April is child abuse prevention month, and there is a public campaign happening next week called "Voices for 3000" in Chicago, asking local residents to be the voice.

Some numbers compiled from various national studies:

-60 percent of child sexual abuse cases go unreported.
- 90 percent of sexually abused children know their abusers.
- 25 percent of adults who at some point suspected a child was being abused never spoke up.

We saw this with the high-profile Penn State University case, which is still going through the courts.

Part of the public campaign is to get everyone paying attention to warning signs. It could be a neighbor, it could be your own child, or your child's friend. What are the warning signs that people should pay attention to?

Rivette says:

- unusual relaltionship with another adult
- sudden behavior changes in the child
- sudden fear of being around a particular person
- sudden change in not wanting to go to school, participate in physical activities
- fear of showering
- signs of anxiety like bedwetting

On the other hand, we don't want people to jump to a quick conclusion. If you suspect something might be wrong, you want to keep the communication line open with that child and let them know somebody cares.

If you'd like more information about child sexual abuse warning signs, visit