Children Deal with
the Trauma of Sexual Exploitation
The best way to reduce the suffering of a child traumatized by pornography
or sexual predators on the Internet (or by any other medium) is
prevention. If your child tells you that he or she has seen or read
something on the Internet of a sexual nature or has had contact
with a sexual predator and appears to be experiencing some trauma
from that experience, talk with your child about it and, if necessary,
seek professional help. Identifying, and sometimes discussing, the
signs and symptoms of psychological damage is a first step to relieving
the child's suffering. Try to provide opportunities to talk about
feelings. When hearing and accepting a child's feelings are too
difficult, therapy involving the child and the family is often necessary.
The following, is a recommended strategy if you think your child
has been abused, traumatized, or sexually exploited while on the
- Believe your child! Children rarely lie about sexual abuse
- Commend your child for telling you about his or her experience.
- Convey your support for your child. Your child may fear that
he or she is at fault and responsible for viewing the pornography
or interacting with a sexual predator. Try to alleviate this
- Temper your own reaction. Recognize that your response sends
a critical message to your child. Your greatest challenge may
be to not convey your own horror.
- Report the suspected illegal online activity to your local
police. In some communities the local police department is equipped
to investigate computer crimes, such as online solicitation
of a minor. Also report such incidences to the CyberTipline:
- Locate a specialized agency that evaluates sexual abuse or
trauma victims - a hospital, a community mental health therapy
group, or a child advocate agency.
- If your child has been physically abused as a result of contact
with an online predator, contact a physician with experience
and training in detecting sexual abuse.
- Talk with your child's teachers, baby-sitters, other parents,
and adults who have supervised your child online. (Enough
Is Enough Take Action Manual)
© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.