For Families and Patients

Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse

Children who have been sexually abused may show symptoms or changes in behavior. Some common symptoms are:

Regression, such as thumb sucking, clingy behavior, withdrawal, or loss of bowel/bladder control.

Sleeping disturbances, such as bed wetting or a fear of sleeping alone.

Eating disorders, such as bulimia, overeating, and anorexia.

School problems.

Social problems, such as anger, aggression, depression, suicidal gestures, preoccupation with masturbation, running away, substance abuse, prostitution, and gastrointestinal problems.

Some children may also have physical symptoms, including sexually transmitted diseases; bloodstains on underwear; unexplained genital injuries; pregnancy; bruises, bites or scratches, especially around the breasts, buttocks, genital or neck areas; and penile or vaginal discharge.

Family Focus is a series of positive parenting tips and information sheets developed by specialists at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. For a complete list of topics, visit our Web site:, and click on “For Families and Patients then “Positive Parenting.”


Patient/Family Education Materials
    Child Development and Rehabilitation
    Conditions and Illnesses
    First Aid
    Home Care Procedures
    Tests and Procedures
    Ways to Wellness

List All Documents Alphabetically (A-Z)
List All Documents by Category
Positive Parenting
    Positive Discipline

Suggested Reading for Children