What You Need to Know About Sexual Abuse

In light of recent events that occurred in St. John parish, one of our readers who is also a social worker asked me to share the following information and resources with the community.
1 in 5 women will be sexually abused in the US at some point in their life.
That’s a very high statistic, and honestly, it’s probably higher than that because many events go unreported.
Who is the most at risk? Children generally between the ages of 7-12 years. That does not mean sexual abuse does not occur earlier or later, and boys should be considered also.
What does a perpetrator generally look like? A family member, a close friend, or someone that has the capability and access to your child.
What do I look for? Obviously if a child tells you that something sexually inappropriate has occurred then you should believe them. Also urinary tract infections, yeast infections, STD’s, and changes in behavior.
What is sexual abuse? Any form of inappropriate kissing or touching, indecent exposure, using film or photography, and of course penetration.
What should I do to help a child who reports this? You can call the police, Child Protection, and or bring the child to a local hospital.
What can I do as a parent to help prevent sexual abuse? Talk to your children, frequently and openly. Use age appropriate language. Explain the difference between ‘good’ touch and ‘bad’ touch, and let your children know that they can tell you anything and that you will believe them. If it has occurred, please make sure that your child has proper treatment for medical and emotional issues. Sexual abuse can trigger many long-term mental disorders; including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety.

Resource List for Families in Our Area:

To Report Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect in Louisiana
Call 1-855-4LA-KIDS
Call 911-for emergency response.
Call 211- also known as Vialink, for general community resources.
Darkness to Light: program that offers education on the severity of child sexual abuse in Louisiana, offers Prevention education programs, and community resources.
The National Children’s Alliance: is a children’s advocacy center to assist with victims of sexual abuse.
The St. Tammany Children’s Advocacy Center/ Hope House: Provides professional support services to educate, advocate, and assist with the healing process of abuse.
Phone: 985-892-3885
St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office
Phone: 985-809-8200
Victim’s Assistance
Phone: 985-809-8383
YWCA Rape Crisis Center
Phone: 985-732-9083
Safe Harbor (housing for abused Women/Children)
Phone: 1-888-411-1533
Sex Offender Search in St Tammany Parish
Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Hotline: 1800-THE-LOST
RAINN: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
Phone: 1-800-656-HOPE
Seeking Mental Health Treatment for a child or an adult?
If you have Medicaid, contact Magellan for a list of providers
Phone: 1-800-424-4399
If you have Private Health Coverage: Contact your insurance agency for a list of providers.
If you have no form of insurance but would like treatment:
Contact Lurline Smith Mental Health Clinic
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