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Warning Signs of Abuse in Children
The warning signs
If you're a child who has been sexually abused, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) for help or visit www.childhelpusa.org.

If you're a parent, grandparent or guardian, the following signs may indicate your child has been molested, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Some of these behaviors may have other explanations, but it is important to assist your child no matter what the cause. Also, keep in mind that children do not always demonstrate obvious signs, but may do or say something that hints at the molestation.
  • Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearfulness and excessive crying
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed or other sleep disturbances
  • Acting out with inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters
  • A sudden acting out of feelings or aggressive or rebellious behavior
  • Regression to infantile behavior; clinging
  • School or behavioral problems
  • Changes in toilet-training habits
  • A fear of certain places, people or activities
  • Bruises, rashes, cuts, limping; multiple or poorly explained injuries
Related Resources:
  • Family Watchdog
    www.familywatchdog.us
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 
    www.missingkids.com
  • The Polly Klaas Foundation
    www.pollyklaas.org
  • The Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation
    www.jmlfoundation.com
  • Amber Alert
    www.amberalert.gov
Please note that Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities have no affiliation with and do not endorse those entities, projects, or websites referenced above, which are provided solely as a courtesy. You should conduct your own independent investigation before using the services of any such entities, projects, or websites. Information is provided for your reference only.

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The Warning Signs
The Warning Signs
If you're a child who has been sexually abused, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) for help or visit www.childhelpusa.org.

If you're a parent, grandparent or guardian, the following signs may indicate your child has been molested, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Some of these behaviors may have other explanations, but it is important to assist your child no matter what the cause. Also, keep in mind that children do not always demonstrate obvious signs, but may do or say something that hints at the molestation.

  • Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearfulness and excessive crying
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed or other sleep disturbances
  • Acting out with inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters
  • A sudden acting out of feelings or aggressive or rebellious behavior
  • Regression to infantile behavior; clinging
  • School or behavioral problems
  • Changes in toilet-training habits
  • A fear of certain places, people or activities
  • Bruises, rashes, cuts, limping; multiple or poorly explained injuries
  • Pain, itching, bleeding, fluid or rawness in the private areas
What to do if your child has been abused
FROM: Teri Hatcher's Desperate Secret: An Exclusive
Published on May 15, 2006

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The Warning Signs
If you're a child who has been sexually abused, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) for help or visit www.childhelpusa.org.

If you're a parent, grandparent or guardian, the following signs may indicate your child has been molested, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Some of these behaviors may have other explanations, but it is important to assist your child no matter what the cause. Also, keep in mind that children do not always demonstrate obvious signs, but may do or say something that hints at the molestation.
  • Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearfulness and excessive crying
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed or other sleep disturbances
  • Acting out with inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters
  • A sudden acting out of feelings or aggressive or rebellious behavior
  • Regression to infantile behavior; clinging
  • School or behavioral problems
  • Changes in toilet-training habits
  • A fear of certain places, people or activities
  • Bruises, rashes, cuts, limping; multiple or poorly explained injuries
  • Pain, itching, bleeding, fluid or rawness in the private areas
FROM: Teri Hatcher's Desperate Secret: An Exclusive
Published on May 02, 2006

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Dr. Oz's 7 Signs You're Aging Too Fast
Catching them early may do more than save you discomfort—it could save your life.
Woman looking in the mirror
Photo: Thinkstock
We all know the telltale signs of aging: crow's feet, wrinkles, age spots. But those are just on the surface. What really matters for your long-term health is how your body is aging on the inside. Keep an eye out for these red flags.

Cotton Mouth
Cotton mouth in the morning may be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. To figure out if you have it, determine your "snore score" by answering the following questions. For every "yes" answer, give yourself a point:
  • Do you snore?
  • Do you wake up groggy or with a headache?
  • Do you feel constantly tired or fatigued during the day?
  • Do you fall asleep reading, watching TV, or driving?
  • Do you have problems with memory or concentration?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you're at risk for sleep apnea and you should see your doctor. In the mean time, be sure to sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat and block your airway. Taping a tennis ball under your back or placing a pillow between your legs can be helpful way to ensure a safer night's sleep by ensuring you stay on your side the entire night.

Red Eyes
Inflamed eyes could be a sign of arthritis, the painful inflammation and stiffening of joints. The same cellular process that causes inflammation in your joints can cause inflammation in your eyes, turning them red.

Studies have shown that the sooner you treat arthritis, the better the long-term results, so visit your doctor at the first sign of trouble. To help stave off or relieve arthritis, try taking feverfew, a plant with a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine. Available at health food stores, feverfew has great anti-inflammatory properties; take 1 to 2 capsules per day.

Next: Test your sense of smell to catch this debilitating disease
PAGE 1 of 3

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3 Ways to Protect Your Child from Sexual Assault
Parents are surrounded by messages about child sexual abuse. Talk shows and TV news warn parents about dangers at school, in the home and on the Internet. Despite all the media coverage, parents don't get much advice about how to talk to their children about sexual abuse and how to prevent it. 



How to protect a child from sexual abuse
Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation
1. Talk to your children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms.
  • Talking openly and directly about sexuality teaches children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.
  • Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
  • Teach children that some parts of their body are private. Let children know that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care. If someone does need to touch them in those private areas, a parent or trusted caregiver should be there too. Tell children that if someone tries to touch those private areas or wants to look at them, or if someone tries to show the child their own private parts, they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • All children should be told that it's okay to say no to touches that make them uncomfortable or if someone is touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable and that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible. This can lead to some slightly embarrassing situations, such as a child who then says they don't want give a relative a hug or kiss! Work with your child to find ways to greet people that don't involve uncomfortable kinds of touch.
  • Talking openly about sexuality and sexual abuse also teaches children that these things don't need to be "secret." Abusers will sometimes tell a child that the abuse is a secret. Let your children know that if someone is touching them or talking to them in ways that make them uncomfortable that it shouldn't stay a secret. Make sure to tell your child that that they will not get into trouble if they tell you this kind of secret.
  • Don't try to put all this information into one big "talk" about sex. Talking about sexuality and sexual abuse should be routine conversations. 
Go to Step 2
PAGE 1 of 3
FROM: Shattering the Secrecy of Incest: Mackenzie Phillips' Follow-Up
Published on October 13, 2009

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Helping Traumatized Children
Dr. Bruce Perry explains how you can help a traumatized child.
Each year in the United States approximately five million children experience some form of traumatic experience. More than two million of these are victims of physical or sexual abuse. Millions more are living in the terrorizing atmosphere of domestic violence. Natural disasters, car accidents, life-threatening medical conditions, painful procedures, exposure to community violence—all can have traumatic impact on the child. By the time a child reaches the age of eighteen, the probability that any child will have been touched directly by interpersonal or community violence is approximately one in four. Traumatic experiences can have a devastating impact on the child, altering their physical, emotional, cognitive and social development. In turn, the impact on the child has profound implications for their family, community and, ultimately, us all.

Traumatic events in childhood increase risk for a host of social (e.g., teenage pregnancy, adolescent drug abuse, school failure, victimization, anti-social behavior), neuropsychiatric (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, conduct disorders) and other medical problems (e.g., heart disease, asthma). The deterioration of public education, urban violence and the alarming social disintegration seen in some of our urban and rural communities can be traced back to the escalating cycles of abuse and neglect of our children.

For most children, thankfully, severe trauma is a new experience. And like all new experiences, the unknown will add to the confusing and frightening circumstances surrounding the traumatic event. The trauma may significantly challenge the child's sense of the world. A flood, tornado, car accident, shooting or abuse by a caregiver—all challenge the child's beliefs about the stability and safety of their world. Very young children may not understand what happened and will be confused or even frightened by the reactions of their siblings or caregivers.
PAGE 1 of 8
FROM: The Little Girl Found Living Like an Animal
Published on March 03, 2009

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