Finding out that your child is being sexually exploited online is every parent’s worst nightmare. The signs of online sexual exploitation are difficult to identify, particularly if a child is being threatened by the predator. However, parents along with school teachers, need to pay attention to the following signs that may suggest your child is being sexually exploited online:
Mood swings, and rapid changes in temperament or emotional well-being, are indicators of a deep-seated problem your child may be facing. If your child is behaving out of character or is being secretive then it is time you sit down with them and ask what is bothering them. It is, of course, critical for parents and teachers to develop an open relationship with children, so that they feel safe discussing anything with them.
Changes in physical appearance, such as sudden weight loss; substance abuse; or unexplained physical injuries are something to be concerned about. If your child is having suicidal thoughts or is involved in self-harming behavior, it is important that you consult a doctor immediately.
Young victims of online sexual exploitation stay traumatized for the rest of their lives. They find it hard to control their anger, hurt and guilt, which they often direct toward their family and friends. As a result, they alienate themselves from their loved ones. Sexual abuse from online predators also makes children disruptive and defensive.
Make your child understand that it is okay for them to tell you anything and that you will always be there for them, no matter what happens. It is only with your love and support that a child will be able to leave behind the ugly and scary memory of abuse.
Children suffering from online sexual exploitation lose focus of their education, and go missing from school. In worst case scenarios, they become so disengaged that they drop out of school entirely. School teachers need to be proactive and take parents on board if they find their child showing any of these symptoms.
Is your fifteen year old daughter dressing provocatively? Has your teenager son just got an expensive cell phone from an unknown source? These are subtle warnings that you must not ignore. Along with your child’s behavior, observe where and with whom they are hanging out. Ensure you know who they have been talking to online or over the phone.
Sexual exploitation of minors is a heinous crime that deeply scars the unfortunate victims for life. Along with identifying signs of exploitation, however, parents need to seek professional help by contacting the police or seeking the services of a rehab treatment centre. Click here to read more about sexual exploitation over the Internet.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.