SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The number of Utah children who fall victim to child abuse each year is in the thousands.
According to Prevent Child Abuse Utah, 10,639 were victims of child abuse and 26 percent of those cases involved child sexual abuse.
Gwen Knight, the Executive Director of Child Abuse Utah, says the topic is “taboo” but the time to have the conversation about child abuse is now.
“It’s really important for both adults to recognize signs and for children to understand definitions in an age-appropriate way,” explained Knight.
There are four different types of child abuse:
Knight says sometimes the sexual abuse is non-touching.
“Showing a child inappropriate pictures, talking to a child inappropriately about sexual things, undressing in front of a child, asking a child to undress in front of a perpetrator.”
Unfortunately, some children don’t know they are being abused. Knight says some of them are taught from birth to think this sort of activity is normal. The experts call this sort of thing ‘grooming’ and say it may be hard to identify when a child is being groomed.
“If there’s another adult spending a lot of alone time with that child, if that child is coming home with gifts, something could be going on,” Knight said.
Knight also adds that parents need to get to know their child’s friends and their families because 90 percent of the time, the victims of abuse know their offender.
“We need to be really cautious.”
Child abuse advocates also say it’s important to let children know that they can tell you anything and that you will listen to them.
They also say to always believe a child when they are talking about abuse.
“Research shows that children seldom lie about abuse,” said Knight.
Signs that a child may have been a victim of abuse:
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Personality, mood or behavior changes
- Refusal to discuss secrets
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Sexual knowledge that is not age appropriate
Report child abuse:
Utah Child Protective Services (CPS) 1-855-323-3237
You will need information such as the child’s name, address, location, who the child’s siblings and parents are, and what your suspicion is. If the child is in immediate danger call law enforcement.
Utah’s ‘Duty to Report’ law requires all citizens age 18 and older to report suspected abuse and neglect. You have the option to report anonymously.
Prevent Child Abuse Utah has a free online course designed to inform parents about abuse. Click here to take the course.