According to Arkansas state law sexual abuse includes sexual acts committed on a child (under age 10 children may not consent) by another including sexual intercourse; sexual contact or penetration of anus, vagina, or mouth by the penis of another or penetration, however slight, of the labia majora or anus by any body member or foreign instrument manipulated by the perpetrator; indecent exposure; or, forcing, permitting or encouraging the watching of pornography or live sexual activity. If the perpetrator is over 17 and the child/teen is less than 16 and not their spouse, sexual activity constitutes sexual abuse. If the person is less than 18 but is acting as a caretaker or is a sibling, sexual activity is sexual abuse.
When in doubt as to whether something is reportable or not, always err on the side of protecting the child and attempt a child abuse report. Mandated reporters must report “suspected” child abuse. They are not required to prove child abuse. The Child Abuse Hotline staff determine if a report is to be taken and acted upon.
Myths of Sexual Abuse
1. I was a victim so I know…
Yes, you do have first-hand experience BUT you must realize that others perceive or respond to their own abuse in different ways than you did, and recognize that children may need a different plan for them than whatever worked or didn’t work for you.
2. I wasn’t abused and never knew anyone who was. A large percentage of females have been sexually abused or raped by age 18. Abuse occurs to children in all geographic areas, ethnic groups, economic groups and religions.
3. I can spot a sex pervert! NO- they come in all sizes, genders, ethnic groups, occupations, religions and sexual orientations. Most sex abusers are heterosexual even if their victims are of the same sex. Many have molested over 100 victims before they are caught.
4. The best way to deal with sexual abuse is not to talk about it or think about it. Children who are sexually abused and DO NOT get counseling are at higher risk for becoming abusers themselves. This is more predictive in males. Children who are sexually abused are at increased risk for PTSD with future trauma or difficulty with transition periods. Effective early counseling can teach coping skills.
5. I don’t want to report “so and so”. He/she promised never to do it again and said this was the first time ever… Many sexual abusers have more than 100 victims before they are stopped.