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Know Your Kids: Parents Must Be Vigilant For Signs Of Sexual Abuse

S.E.S.A.M.E. Calls for Strengthening the Safety Net for Victims of Abuse

NEW YORK, Dec. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Though the Sandusky conviction and the nation's discussion of sexual abuse has faded, Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.) calls on parents to stay vigilant for signs of child sexual abuse, especially at the hands of trusted adults, like educators and coaches. Terri Miller, President of S.E.S.A.M.E., pointed to gaps in the education system that allow predatory educators and coaches to continue to interact with and harm children.

Symptoms of abuse can include but are not limited to unexplained or recurring injuries such as cuts and bruises situated in areas of the child's body which are not normally prone to injury; physical signs such as stomachaches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, bed-wetting, damaged clothes, eating disorders, substance abuse, desire to drop out of school; and unexplained changes in behavior and/or attitudes toward adults or activities they have previously enjoyed. Children may become depressed, fearful, anxious, isolated, and/or experience suicidal thoughts.

"Administrators, teachers, coaches, trainers, and parents all have the power to end abuse," said Miller. "We must bring the discussion of abuse out of the shadows so that fewer young people suffer in silence."

Parents can help prevent abuse by requesting that the staff of their school and athletic club undergo criminal background checks; having an open dialogue about inappropriate or abusive behaviors and what they should do if they observe such behaviors; and request that their school or athletic club adopt policies that clearly define misconduct and abuse.

"It is unacceptable that adults who work closely with children do not undergo comprehensive background checks, and that there are not uniform reporting requirements for abusive educators," said Miller. "A patchwork of laws will not stop predators from getting new employment where they can continue to abuse children. We must enact laws, like the Jeremy Bell Act, so that our children are better protected."

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