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amberrae's avatar

What is the best way to handle a four year old who may be showing signs of abuse?

Asked by amberrae (462points) November 26th, 2010

What are some definite signs of molestation and/or sexual abuse that a four year old boy might exhibit… and what should a parent do?? And then what about how to handle the chaos that may cause in the family??

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15 Answers

Joybird's avatar

I’ll start this conversation and let others add. Masturbation is normal. Signs of knowledge of oral, vaginal and anal sex are not at the age of 4. Mimicing knowing your child has walked in on you with your partner by accident may be normal. But overt mimicing is a sign of inappropriate exposure to pornographic material or overt sexual behaviors in front of them or with them. Look for rashes, throat infections. And know that if you ask your pediatrician for STD tests it will prompt mandated reporting to 911 and CPS at that point.

amberrae's avatar

And what about as far as emotionally, he seems different….

rangerr's avatar

Emotionally… every abuse victim is a bit different. Especially at that age.
What seems different?

amberrae's avatar

He just seems more easily angered, sometimes distant… doesnt want to take baths or change his underwear… things just seem to have changed…

flutherother's avatar

There may be other reasons for his changed behaviour. Why do you think of sexual abuse? Has anyone had the opportunity to abuse him?

rangerr's avatar

@amberrae Ask him if there’s anything he needs to tell you.. if anything has happened that he wants to talk about. Does he know what’s appropriate/inappropriate in regards to other people and his body? Yes, he’s 4.. but it’s still an important topic.
It could be a random phase he’s going through.. it could be a bunch of different things. But if you’re worried about abuse, start by talking to him and seeing what he can tell you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You could also ask him if there’s something that someone told him not to tell you, and that it’s okay to tell you because you’re his best friend, and best friends don’t have secrets.

Joybird's avatar

@amberrae I sent you a list of questions you can ask that aren’t leading and that wouldn’t interfere with your discovery process or muddy things in event you should discovery he has been molested.
That you suggest he is reluctant to remove underwear or be bathed would open a window of questioning for you. Whom besides YOU has bathed him or would have changed his clothes? List these people. Those are the people you begin to use that list of questions I gave you with….you ask him about those people who you know have had access. It doesn’t matter if they are family, friends, lovers, church people, foster care, etc. It helps to ask while having something to reward with….any answer gets a few more m&m’s passed across the table…but you can’t lead or prompt….you just nonchalantly ask the open ended question and then pass a few m&m’s across the table as the talking begins so that you are rewarding for telling NOT for what is told.


If the boy can communicate well enough, you can ask him casually if there is anyone who has been touching him inappropriately in his private areas. A 4 year-old usually doesn’t lie about such things, so you can get a pretty straightforward answer from him. Also, if you are the parent or someone who is really close to him, you can probably “sense” that something is wrong, that he is not behaving in his usual manner or in a manner expected of a little 4 year-old. He may cry more often than usual for no reason, or seem depressed, quiet, and sullen. Or he may exhibit sexual behavior that is not normal (especially for a child), like attempting to touch someone else in an untoward way, or making lewd comments or using foul sexual language.

But be very careful before you accuse anyone of molesting the kid——you have to be certain that you have the facts before you try to “handle the manner in the family”. Otherwise, you can create more heartaches and lifelong distrust than ever.

trailsillustrated's avatar

if you are not sure but suspect report it, please. I beg you with my heart and soul.

flutherother's avatar

Personally, I would go easy on this. Firstly, make sure there is no possibility of any abuse taking place in future. Secondly, act as normally as you can with the child. He may be noticing odd behaviour in you and reacting to it. I wouldn’t rush into anything if you are not sure. If abuse has taken place healing will be a long term project.

skfinkel's avatar

He might have been told, if he has been abused, that if he tells anyone anything, he or someone he loves will be hurt. So, I don’t know if you can count on him telling you anything. Why not go to your pediatrician and have a talk with him/her first? That person can do a check on your four year old to see if anything looks suspicious. If so, they will take it from there. For you to suspect this, and then have to suspect everyone who is with the child does not sound like a healthy emotional environment, so getting to the bottom of this quickly would be best.

amberrae's avatar

He was in what i thought was a good environment when he was away from home. He was with my mother, but I do not like her boyfriend and think he is of shady character….

flutherother's avatar

@amberrae If you think there is any possibility that your mothers boyfriend has done anything untoward with your son you have to ensure that you are with your son at all times when he is present.

amberrae's avatar

Thats what I have been doing.

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