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Every child deserves to grow up in a loving and nurturing environment and be protected from sexual, verbal, physical and emotional exploitation, but sadly, child abuse is an ever present danger. Both child abuse and child neglect can cause devastating consequences on the well-being of the child and have life-long effects on his or her mental health. Across the state of Illinois there are various successful prevention programs which involve the entire society in the relentless fight against child molestation.

In order to ensure the families with safe and secure environments to raise their children, the state of Illinois keeps promoting the following six prevention factors which are bound to reduce child abuse and neglect:

  • Strengthening the connections between children, parents and caregivers
  • Raise the children with effective, appropriate and researched-based child discipline
  • Strengthening inner family relationships
  • Developing emotional and social skills in children
  • Provide support for parenting through engaging friends and relatives
  • Connecting families to a wider community

How to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

In the state of Illinois, one out of four girls and one out of six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, which is a rather disturbing fact. To make matters worse, one third of these victims has been abused before the age of 12 by someone they know, love or trust, including family members.

Any sexual activity with a child is a considered sexual abuse, whether it involves touching or not, including fondling, rape, incest, sexual talk, voyeurism, pornography and internet crimes. A majority of the children who have been victims of sexual abuse do not tell anyone of their painful experience and often do not exhibit physical signs. But, if physical signs are present, look for the following symptoms in the child’s health:

  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Redness, rashes, bleeding or pain in the genital or anal areas
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • Frequent bladder or urinary tract infections
  • Pregnancy

Sexually abused children often tend to hide the molestation, thus experiencing feelings such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, confusion, anger and depression. A victim of sexual abuse may present the following changes in behavior:

  • Start exhibiting aggression and depression
  • Become withdrawed from family, friends or activities
  • Show a sudden fear of certain people, places, or activities
  • Act younger than his/hers age by doing things such as wetting his/her bed or sucking his/her thumb
  • Start having nightmares or other sleep problems
  • Start having self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol or drug use, eating disorders, or cutting themselves
  • Begin having difficulties at school

Illinois Sex Offender Register

The state of Illinois has created an online registry of convicted sex offenders, in order to enable the public to easily identify these convicted child molesters and protect the children from further traumas. It is important to keep in mind that information on this registry will not always be accurate for a couple of reasons. First of all, information provided by sex offenders can be intentionally inaccurate. Secondly, as residences and sex offender statuses do change, it could take time for the registry to be updated accurately.