Child sexual abuse in the Panhandle

W herever you get your news, in the last few months, you could not avoid this subject. The headlines concerning child sexual abuse has been everywhere.

With that in mind, we wondered if the caseload has been changing for our local experts who deal with that problem.

With the investigations at Penn State and Syracuse Universities, the recent Amarillo Independent School District teacher investigation, many people are talking about child sexual abuse.

According the the National Center for Victims of Crime, 90,000 child sexual abuse cases are reported a year. It is estimated that one in four girls and one in six boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse while younger than 18 years.

Pronews 7 spoke to Family Support Services to see if more cases are being reported in our area.

"On an average I would say that there are over 300 forensic sexual exams done each year that's on children and adults as well , " said Angie Stovall, Crisis Service Coordinator.

Stovall says the 300 cases are their average, and they have not seen a huge increase, or decrease. But she does have a warning for many parents, especially during the holidays.

"Over 90% of the time children know the offender in some way, friend, family, neighbor."

If you suspect your child or a child you know has been sexually assaulted, there are a few common symptoms to look for.

"You're going to notice that they're acting out sexually, that maybe they're using language that they haven't used before maybe drawing pictures of a sexual nature . A lso with younger kids there maybe a regression in some of their behaviors, maybe going back to bed wetting, thumb sucking , " said Stovall.

She says older children will skip school or have a poor self image. Also, all it takes is a watchful eye to keep them safe.

"It's important to keep an eye on your kids all the time in public places stay with your kids don't let them go to public restroom by themselves. Know who they're with do some research."

Research and extra steps that could save a child from becoming a victim of sexual assault.

Stovall also says your child is never too young to be taught about safe boundaries and to report if someone crosses them.

If you suspect a child has been sexually abused, contact police and take the child to the hospital for an exam.