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Possible Signs of Child Incest

Updated: Dec 14, 2023


Child incest has long been a subject of both social and moral concern. Societies throughout the history of humankind have condemned incest as an abhorrent and dangerous act. Like crimes such as murder and rape, it is a forbidden act – a prohibited behavior – a taboo. Yet despite its long history, child incest has only recently become a subject of open discussion and objective study.

In the 1970s, our knowledge of the many aspects of incest began to grow significantly. This

resulted in part from the “women’s movement” whereby women felt freer to speak of early

sexual victimization. Then, the advent of “good touch/bad touch” programs provided a safe

atmosphere for talking about sexual experiences (including incest). There is still much to learn

on a scientific basis, particularly about incestuous victimization of boys.

Today, we recognize that incest is a serious and prevalent form of child abuse. We also realize that children generally do not seduce, as was once mistakenly believed, older relatives into having sexual contact with them. The fact is that children, being naturally dependent upon adults, are highly susceptible to the superior authority, power and knowledge of adults. It is a fact, too, that no one has the right to “use” children for sexual purposes.

Although our knowledge about child incest is growing, there is still much that remains unclear.

Unfortunately, there is no national provision for the uniform collection of data from all the states. Furthermore, the relatively few scientific studies thus far conducted do not always agree on their findings. What we can state with a high degree of certainty is the following. 1) No social class or ethnic group is exempt. 2) More is known about father/daughter incest (including stepfathers) than that of other relationships. 3) Where fathers are the perpetrators, there are generally other serious family problems including marital discord and social isolation. 4) A serious finding is that the parents themselves often suffered abuse as children.

Because of the increasing awareness of child incest, educational programs are in place to

encourage children to forbid and to report adult sexual advances. Where, historically, the

occurrence of incest remained ignored and denied, and therapists rejected patients who wished to speak of it, there has been a growth in the number of knowledgeable, skilled and helpful professionals. Enlightened child protective agencies and law enforcement services are

increasingly able to deal with the problems rationally and correctly.

Possible Behavioral Indicators of Child Incest

The following is a partial list of possible indicators that a child has been – or is currently – a

victim of incest. A combination of these behavioral indicators MAY mean that incest has taken

place. A key to determining the potential for incest is if the child suddenly demonstrates changed behaviors.

  • Aggressive, hostile or negative behavior

  • Alcohol and other drug use or abuse

  • Bed wetting

  • Bladder irregularities

  • Daydreaming

  • Delinquent behaviors

  • Depression

  • Difficulty walking or sitting

  • Distancing from, and poor communications with, the non-perpetrating parent

  • Eating disorders

  • Excessive masturbation

  • Fear of adults or a specific person

  • Inability to trust others

  • Lack of friends

  • Loss of appetite

  • Low self-esteem

  • Nervous disorders

  • Nightmares of other sleeping problems

  • Pain or itching around the genitals or anus

  • Poor school performance

  • Regression to thumb sucking and other early childhood behaviors

  • Running away from home

  • School truancy

  • Seductive behavior

  • Self-mutilation or infliction of pain

  • Sexual acting-out

  • Social withdrawal

  • Stomachaches

  • Sudden clinging; greater need for assurance

  • Suicide thoughts, gestures or attempts

  • Suppressed fear and anger

  • Touching adult genitals

  • Unusual knowledge of or interest in sex

  • Voracious reading as an escape

Agencies to Contact About Child Incest

What follows is a partial list of agencies to contact about child incest. Check the telephone book for local numbers.

National Child Abuse Hotline – The National Child Abuse Hotline is a toll-free number that

can be called 24 hour a day from anywhere in the United States.

Telephone # (800) 4A-CHILD

Child Protective Services – CPS is a special unit in each state and local Department of Human Services responsible for investigating child abuse (including child incest).

Police Department – Most police and sheriff’s departments have at least one officer responsible for juvenile matters or an officer who investigates crimes against persons. Dial 911 in case of serious, immediate emergency.*

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1 Comment

Denis Mercier
Denis Mercier
Oct 18, 2023

There should be a separate circle in hell for taking advantage of the vulnerable victims of child abuse the foster-child system currently cannot seem to prevent. The extensive lists this mini-blog supplies at the very least provide methods for noticing and identifying the problem. And that's a start. And the perps are identified and incarcerated.

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