Our attorneys focus on holding institutions responsible for allowing abuse to occur. We typically do not handle matters involving abuse by a personal acquaintance, family member, or other individual outside of an organization.
As the parent or guardian of a toddler, there is nothing you would not do to keep your child safe. Toddlers present a unique challenge because they are at a stage where they are forming their own personalities but still do not understand complex concepts or feelings. This makes it difficult to communicate about tough issues like sexual abuse and personal safety.
If something seems off with your toddler or you have any suspicions that someone has acted inappropriately with them, do not hesitate to address it. It is also important to understand the signs of sexual abuse in toddlers. Even at this young age, everyone has a different response to sexual abuse, but there are things you can look for.
If your toddler has been sexually abused, please consider taking immediate action. Pedophiles virtually never stop at just one victim. Yours can be the voice that protects your child and countless others. Contact the experienced sexual abuse attorneys at Boucher LLP to bring your child’s abuser to justice.
Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Abuse in Toddlers
Just as each toddler is their own little person, each will also have a different response to sexual abuse. One of the reasons that abusers choose toddlers rather than older children is because there is a feeling of security in knowing that the toddler does not understand what is happening and is less likely to effectively communicate the abuse.
The following are signs that would make a child therapist concerned about sexual abuse. There may be other reasons for the behavior, but they should be addressed regardless. Some of these signs of sexual abuse in toddlers may be uncomfortable to hear or discuss.
A toddler having sexualized play with dolls or other toys is concerning behavior. Having dolls kiss is fairly common, or even having them lay on top of each other, which could indicate cuddling. It would be concerning for a toddler to act out oral sex or other sexual acts that would not be normal public behavior.
It is normal for children to explore their body parts, but penetrating themselves is not normal behavior. Though awkward to discuss and address if a toddler is using their fingers or other objects to penetrate their anus or vagina, this is a reason for concern.
Inappropriate Touching of Others
Children tend to naturally explore everything during the toddler phase, but there are some touching behaviors that are inappropriate. If your child is touching others in their private parts, that could be an indication that it has been done to them. This is especially a problem if they are putting their mouth on the other person’s private parts or trying to penetrate them.
Talking About a New Older Friend
Anytime an adult or older child is showing a toddler a lot of attention, it can be concerning. An abused child may talk a lot about a certain person. It is worth examining how much time they are actually spending together and if they are ever left alone.
Bleeding, Irritation, or Infection from Private Parts
There can be a number of reasons your child has medical concerns with their private parts. If you notice any bleeding, irritation, infections, or bruising around their private parts, you should take them to see a doctor immediately.
Playing Secret Games That Are Sexualized
Pedophiles will often incorporate games into their abuse to encourage cooperation from their victims. Children wanting to play games that involve secret touching of the body is not normal or appropriate.
Names for Private Parts
Toddlers do not have much of a filter when it comes to communication. If your toddler has special names for private parts that you did not convey to them, that could be a sign of sexual abuse in toddlers. Abusers may have nicknames for private parts that they teach to their victims.
Negative Response to a Specific Person
If your child is timid or frightened by a specific person and this is uncharacteristic for your child, it is important to recognize that there may be a problem.
Depending on the abuse, a toddler may not recognize the abuse as traumatic or still may enjoy the company of their abuser because they do other fun things that are unrelated to the abuse. They do not always fear or feel uncomfortable around their abuser.
General Signs of Sexual Abuse
There are a number of general signs of sexual abuse that may occur for your toddler but are also notable across all survivor demographics:
- Nightmares or issues sleeping,
- Sudden changes in eating habits,
- Mood swings,
- Unusual fear of people or places, and
- Withdrawal from usual activities
There could be other reasons for these behaviors. Because it is hard to understand why toddlers do what they do, it is important to address these concerns with their pediatrician whether or not you suspect sexual abuse.
Gender-Specific Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Toddlers
Signs of sexual abuse in male toddlers and signs of sexual abuse in female toddlers are similar but specific to bodily parts.
Males may have bruising around the penis or the toddler may be rubbing or grabbing their penis more than normal. They may also have anal irritation or bleeding.
Females may have bleeding or bruising around the vagina. They may touch this area frequently or have a urinary tract infection.
What to Do If You Suspect Toddler Sexual Abuse
Toddler sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on the mental and physical health of your child. At this young age, the child may not fully process the abuse, but the effects may surface later in life. No child should ever have to experience sexual abuse, and by speaking out, you can be a part of stopping the cycle.
At Boucher LLP, our team specializes in California sexual abuse cases. Every single claim is important to us. You do not have to have all the answers. That’s why we are here. Not only do we understand the complex California legal system, but we are also committed to uncovering the truth, providing zealous legal representation, and bringing sexual abusers to justice. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.