My daughter was sexual with a younger child.

Dear Stop It Now!,

I just found out that my 10 year old daughter has been having sexual contact with a 6 year old girl in the neighborhood. The 6 year old told her mother that my daughter was making her do things that she didn’t want to do. When I asked my daughter about it, she admitted to it. I am in shock and don’t know what to do. Please help.

Dear Concerned Parent,

Feeling shock is a natural reaction after discovering your daughter’s behavior towards her younger neighbor.

Help is available for sexual behavior problems

I want to begin by assuring you that there is much that can be done to help a child change her behaviors when they are inappropriate and potentially harmful to other children. Additionally, please understand that children who sexually harm another child do so for very different reasons than adults who abuse. For more information, you may want to read our FAQ: Can child sexual abuse also involve a child abusing another child? or our guidebook Do Children Sexually Abuse Other Children.

In order to help your daughter, it is important to respond to this behavior and get professional help for her. There are therapists who understand children’s sexual behaviors and can be a support to both you and your daughter. Also, a therapist can help develop a safety plan that will keep your daughter and other children healthy and safe. In situations where a child or youth has gone beyond behaving inappropriately with a younger child to sexually abusing, prompt intervention can get them treatment to stop abusing and to grow up as a safe member of our community.

Finding a therapist

For help in finding a therapist, you can talk to your pediatrician or visit our website for referrals for specialized therapy for adults and youth to help you find appropriate treatment providers. Above all, keep uppermost in your mind that when a child sexually harms another child, they can get help to change their behaviors.  The earlier they receive treatment, the easier it is to re-direct their behaviors.

Talking with your local child protection service

While you have not specified the actual behaviors, I do want to make you aware of the option to report the sexual contact between the two children to your local child protection service. Reporting can help both families help determine next steps and access services. It is possible that if a professional therapist begins working with your daughter, he or she may find that they are required to report based on the initial assessment of the situation. For more information about filing, please review our Online Help Center information on Filing reports.  For information on where to report, ChildHelp can further direct you.

Safety planning

Also, please be aware of safety concerns for your daughter at this time. It’s important to help her be safe with other children, and a thoughtful supervision plan will help protect everyone. We want to help your daughter feel positive about her relationships and protect her from vulnerable situations. Our prevention tip sheet, Creating a Plan for Safety, can offer your family some good ideas and tips.

Supporting your daughter

Your support will be crucial; it may be helpful to read about talking with a child who has sexually abused for more insight into what your daughter may be feeling. Understanding her experience and needs will help you offer the most beneficial support. Many families move forward and heal after an experience like this. Your daughter’s ability to tell the truth about what happened is very encouraging, and I’m sure she feels your care and love for her.

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: August 24th, 2012