Thursday, June 01, 2000

Myths and Facts About Sexually Reactive Youth

Myths and Facts About Sexually Reactive Youth

Myth: Young kids are just curious.
Fact: When children force or coerce others or are unable to stop sexual behaviors, this is a sign of a sexual behavior problem.

Myth: Children will grow out of it.
Fact: Relying on this hope jeopardizes the safety of your child and others.

Myth: My child would never force another to do anything sexual.
Fact: Force can include words, coercion, pressure, bribes, or tricks.

Myth: My child was not abused.
Fact: Children can be exposed to sex without being sexually abused physically. Exposure to pornography or witnessing adult sexuality can affect a child's behavior.

Myth: My child does exactly what I say and this will never happen again.
Fact: Parental control is important but is not the simple answer. Kids need to learn new beliefs and skills so they can cope when a parent is not available to guide them.

Reasons Kids Have Sexually Reactive Youth Behaviors:
Sexually Reactive Behaviors may occur when a child has been exposed to sexually explicit material, environments or has been victimized, and is attempting to cope with his or her own overwhelming feelings. This behavior can put the child and others at risk. Please read below to see examples of circumstances that may initiate or support reactive behavior.

The following are only a few examples:
  • Confusion based on what they see on TV, videos, video games, internet, or magazines.
  • Have been sexually abused by direct physical contact or subject to witnessing sexual abuse.
  • Live in sexually explicit environments in which sex has been witnessed and related in a negative manner.
  • Witness to Domestic Violence.
  • Exposure to pornography or being used by an older person for pornography.
Other Behaviors Your Child May Display:
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Problems following rules
  • Poor physical boundaries in general
  • Problems understanding the feeling of others or empathizing with them
  • Problems at school, home, or with friends.
Sexually Aggressive Behaviors may occur when a child begins to pair sexual behaviors with threats, coercion, or physical harm, he or she could be considered sexually aggressive.

Reasons to Get Help
If your child is a victim of child sexual abuse and is acting out sexually, he or she can learn new coping skills.
  • Some sexual exploration between same-age children is normal. If you are worried that your child has sexually reactive or sexually aggressive behaviors you can get help to determine whether the behaviors are within normal limits.
  • Children who have sexual behavior problems are not adult sex offenders. Early evaluation and treatment will help eliminate inappropriate sexual behaviors.
  • Sexually reactive children are often victims who need to learn new coping skills and behaviors.
  • Parents need support and help understanding what is happening with their child and/or in their family.
  • Sexually reactive children behaviors rarely happen only once.
  • Children who do not get help are at risk to be re-victimized and/or to re-offend.
  • Counseling increases the chances of having healthier happier adult relationships.

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