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Understanding the reality of sexual abuse in Maryland

There is nothing more important to Baltimore children than growing up in a loving and caring home. Children need love and support from responsible adults in order to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, as many children are injured each year at the hands of those who are supposed to be looking out for their best interests.

The facts are staggering. One in three girls, and one in five boys, is reported as having suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an adult. Of these incidents of abuse, it may be surprising to hear that over 80 percent of abusers are individuals who are close to the child. This may include a family member or a person the child is familiar with, as opposed to strangers.

Children who suffer sexual abuse may exhibit a number of behaviors as a result of the abuse, including withdrawal or an anti-social attitude. Along with these feelings, children can have a fear of intimate contact and refuse to undress for sporting activities or physical education classes. Other children may exhibit unusually seductive behavior, or act out sexual acts with other children.

Ultimately, each child is different, as is each case of sexual abuse. Children may exhibit different behaviors and may suffer differing degrees of physical, emotional and psychological injuries as a result of sexual abuse.

The important thing is for injured children and their loved ones to understand that there are options available for the child when facing sexual abuse. In addition to penalties available through the criminal justice system, children may bring a civil cause of action against their abuser to recover compensation for the abuse. Given the long-term effects of child abuse, compensation may be awarded based upon a variety of factors, all with the goal of helping the child recover from the terrible incident or incidents of abuse.

Source: Baltimore County Maryland, "Facts about child abuse," accessed on Aug. 11, 2014

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