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Inappropriate Sexual Behavior and its Effects on Children

You may have heard a lot about the sexual abuse of children, but sexual abuse is not limited to involving children in sexual acts.  Different people view different types of behavior as inappropriate for children to participate in or view.  There are  also laws which have been made to define inaappropriate behavior which are strictly enforced. 

People who work in mental health also have their own standards of behavior which are based on what is damaging to children.  Overt acts including touching are not the only things that might effect a child.   They include what the child sees, hears, touches, and feels physically and emotionally.   What is also damaging is that denial is used to cover up the abuse.  Children often sense  that what is happening is wrong and pretend it never happened which is a form of denial.  It might make them feel very uncomfortable and unable to express it. 

Whenever subtile abuse is covered up in some way, for example, especially when it is rationalized away by saying that the child is too young to notice what is going on, it is often just as harmful as overt abuse.  The child may think that certain sexual behaviors are okay in public.  Besides having difficulties observing the boundaries of others, they might have difficulty setting tbeir own boundaries.  Boundaries include all the senses.  For example, a child sees someone who is inappropriately dressed (what are robes for anyway?), a child might overhear a sexually explicit cell phone conversation,  or a child may feel that something is not quite right about the way they are dressed by their caregivers in public.    Chjldren learn appropriate behaviors from those around them,  if what they learn is not acceptable in society outside the home, they may be unfairly treated and/or get in trouble because of this.

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