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I Suspect that my Grandchildren are being Sexually Abused

(25 Posts)
willa45 Thu 20-Jul-17 00:44:50

My DD2 and SIL have very demanding jobs and work full time. As a result both grandchildren attend after school programs during the school year and a full day summer camp during vacation.

I recently got off the phone with DD2 who complained to me yet again, that both of of my GC (boy 9 and girl 7) are now more preoccupied than ever with 'games' that involve inappropriate touching and very suggestive poses. Without going into details, my granddaughter likes to perform dance routines that have become very sexualized and I can't for the life of me understand how she can come up with such moves on her own. My grandson has gotten in trouble at school for touching other kids. He also touches his sister and she likes to touch him back. Needless to say, I am very concerned about what is going on with both of them.

DD1 and I both feel that DD2 should investigate possible abuse and/or talk to a therapist. DD1 suggested as much and it ended in a heated argument. DD1 said that her sister's response was to either bury her head in the sand or to lash out angrily.

Today, DD2 complained to me again about my GC's behavior and that nothing she does or says to them seems to get them to stop and that it's getting worse. She told me they have embarrassed her in public. I then asked her point blank why she can't accept the possibility that someone is abusing them and asked her why she wasn't pursuing that more vigorously. She told me there is no possibility of that, that I had no right to accuse her of not doing anything and then she hung up on me.

She just now sent me a text message "Remind me not to talk to you about my family ever again!".

Dearest friends.....Am I overreacting? I don't recall my own kids doing this at any age. Can anyone tell me if this sort of behavior is normal among seven to nine year olds? ? .... If there is real cause for concern, how should I proceed? They live fifteen hundred miles away!

nannynoo Thu 20-Jul-17 02:46:50

If it is happening at school it will have been flagged up by the teachers to social services possibly

Someone needs to sit the children down and talk to them and ask them where / who they get the behaviours from

It definitely sounds like something is going on and it is natural you are very worried

It is not necessarily a product of sexual abuse but something could be going on for them emotionally

I think a call to social services may be in order due to your level of concern and ages of the children

My Grandson can be sexually inappropriate due to his Autism plus he has no idea about personal space etc and can be overly affectionate and 'touchy feely'

I know part of this is normal eg he does ike to have a fiddle with himself lol and being overtly sexualised is very common with children with special needs etc but the level of sexuality here may be a worry as it is getting worse?

I read this online if it helps? ;

''Some parents and professionals become concerned when a child displays sexual behaviour because they fear it may be a sign that something inappropriate has happened to the child. It is important to note, however, that although "some children display this behaviour as a result of sexual abuse, many children who display inappropriate sexual behaviour have not been abused."
To help parents determine whether or not sexual abuse is a concern, consultation with a professional may be appropriate. "If the sexual behaviour is highly inappropriate, or a parent suspects sexual abuse, contacting the local child protection agency is mandated by law''

BlueBelle Thu 20-Jul-17 08:09:02

Obviously this is very concerning to you but just a word of perhaps comfort I do know kids watch some ridiculous stuff on their phones and iPads and I have seen quite small children copying moves that their idols use and make really inappropriately
Could they have assessed some inappropriate magazines of videos if their mother is sure there has been no occasion they could have been abused

Normally if children are groomed or sexulally abused they are very secretive about sex as they are usually warned or threatened to say nothing so the fact that they are so overt really points to them seeing it as normal and more likely a copycat reaction ( still worrying though)

silverlining48 Thu 20-Jul-17 08:46:25

Its understandable you and your daughter are concerned, especially when the extensive after school and holiday care does provide opportunity for grooming/abuse to possibly occur. However it should always be remembered that most sexual abuse takes place within family/ friends circles both extended and immediate and generally children who are being abused are threatened to keep silent.
Assume she has discussed her concerns with the school but if they had concerns they would have been in touch with her and her husband to discuss.
Could it be that they have watched inappropriate things online? How much time do they spend together as a family? It seems little and assuming you are in the usa, holiday leave is much shorter than here in europe.
Could they be attention seeking? Their behaviour does appear to be very overt and you are right to be concerned.

M0nica Thu 20-Jul-17 09:27:53

Speak to Social Services, I assume that this term is common to the US as well as UK. It seems to me more generally that if the parents, for whatever reason, are consigning their children to the care of others for so much of the time, they cannot possibly know what is happening to them at school, in after school care or in full day camp in the vacations.

That the children are acting the way they do is worrying, whether the cause is sexual abuse or uncontrolled and unsupervised access to sexually explicit or pornographic websites. Sexual abusers are subtle and devious and wherever the abuse is happening, it will be as hidden as possible. If they are accessing unsuitable online material then it is clear there is inadequate supervision of their online time and they are using devices that do not have adequate control software on them.

if nothing else these children are suffering from parental and institutional neglect.

TriciaF Thu 20-Jul-17 09:31:15

I agree with Bluebell - children who have been physically or sexually abused clam up about it - usually the abuser has told them not to tell anyone about it. Then they become rather sad and withdrawn. I came across a few children like that when I was working. Certainly not reacting by dancing suggestively etc.
But it does sound as if they're watching inappropriate things.
But I can't see how you can do anything more about it, Willa, living so far away. Hopefully, after all the upset, your daughter will rethink what's happening to her children and take some action herself.

Imperfect27 Thu 20-Jul-17 10:27:54

Agree that children often will not 'talk' about physical / sexual abuse, but exhibiting sexualised behaviour is a possible indicator.

It is very difficult for you to know when you are at such a distance, but as this has been picked up as a problem at school it is not negligible. School should be monitoring the situation, but sometimes the dots don't get joined up. Perhaps the mother is in denial to school re there being any problem. As teachers we often hear ' But this never happens at home!'
If you are truly concerned you should report it - to social services and perhaps also contact the school and ask to speak to whoever deals with child protection in confidence to say you have done this.

Teetime Thu 20-Jul-17 10:32:38

If it were me I would get in touch with Social Services straight away. Better to be thought a busybody than to let this go unchecked. I do hope your fears are unwarranted and that all is well.

gillybob Thu 20-Jul-17 10:37:11

How awful for you Willa45.

My first reaction was that the children might be watching inappropriate TV and copying what they have seen.

Also some of the pop videos my DGD's love could be seen as very inappropriate with highly provocative poses and moves.

If you have ruled out the above. then obviously you need to take things further.

FarNorth Thu 20-Jul-17 11:28:07

"Today, DD2 complained to me again about my GC's behavior and that nothing she does or says to them seems to get them to stop and that it's getting worse. She told me they have embarrassed her in public."

Clearly, your DD doesn't want the children to behave in this way. What does she say to them?
Has she asked them, calmly, why they do these things and where they got their ideas from?

I think your DD is overstressed by her work and family responsibilities and is (understandably) hoping for a quick fix without much effort on her part.

Tell her that you know she is doing her best and suggest she asks the children (maybe separately) where their ideas come from.

TriciaF Thu 20-Jul-17 12:02:55

"Tell her that you know she is doing her best and suggest she asks the children (maybe separately) where their ideas come from."
Good idea Farnorth.

Anya Thu 20-Jul-17 12:23:55

In my experience young children will not talk about sexual abuse as they have been threatened by the abuser about what will happen if they do. Older children may. It takes an experienced professional (usually) to get to the bottom of such behaviour.

Not all sexually explicit behaviour is the result of abuse however.

This is a difficult one.

M0nica Thu 20-Jul-17 12:28:17

Parents or teachers just asking children about abuse will get you nowhere. Abusers use threats and promises to get silence from the children.

The only way to do this is through medical or social services and trained counselors.

Nannarose Thu 20-Jul-17 16:43:09

It may not be the result of actual abuse, but something unhelpful is going on.
What you can do OP, which I would do in your shoes, is to ring your local Social Services department anonymously. They will talk to you and whilst you list your concerns and discuss them will not ask for details.
The person you talk to will have the training and experience to ask relevant questions and will be able to suggest what to do.
At that point, you may wish to consider giving the children's names: if there has been a 'flag' at school, your information may be very helpful. Even if your DD is very angry, you can also be assured that parents who seek help when concerned are not automatically 'in trouble' themselves.

You can also say to the Social Worker that you want to think about the questions they have asked, what they have said and you will ring them back. They know how delicate and difficult this is.

I feel for you, but do think you should not just sit on this information. It may not feel helpful at the moment, but I think you do have to think what is best for the children, however painful for the adults (and, my goodness, how easy to say and hard to do)

Good luck

TriciaF Thu 20-Jul-17 16:58:45

The OP said:
"She just now sent me a text message "Remind me not to talk to you about my family ever again!".
But you could still do what NannaRose suggests.

nannynoo Thu 20-Jul-17 22:49:57

I do think it has to be nipped in the bud now and got to the bottom of before it gets any worse

The family doctor may be able to help as well and refer the children to CAHMS but there is a huge waiting list but any type of talking therapy may help get to the bottom of what is going on

What does their Mum suspect is causing it?

When did it start and was there a change in family circumstances around that time?

Children's behaviour is an indication of what is going on for them emotionally and they clearly need some support ( pretty quickly! ) xx

The Mum and Dad need to work with the kids to get to the bottom of it and then hopefully it will be resolved ( over time ) smile

Kids do heal but they need to be able to express what is troubling them rather than bottling it up and then it coming out in their behaviour , it could be a cry for help or more attention , words communicate far less than body language etc so something is def going on for these kids and they need a professional possible to enable them to express what is indeed troubling them and then , hopefully it can get sorted , it could be something such as feeling neglected and starved of attention etc so the parents would have to work on that possibly as the longer the cause goes on without intervention or help the worse the behaviours will become sad

My poor Grandson is acting out a treat right now pretty much every day but there is a lot going on for him emotionally which sadly cannot be changed for him right now and I would change it if I could but there supposed to be a method in the madness which I find near impossible to grasp but I am here for him and he does get his feelings all out as much as he can with only being partially verbal which does not help with his frustration , bless him , yet I am hoping we come out the other end eventually or even soon so he can heal , put it behind him and return to normality and feel secure etc again! x

willa45 Fri 21-Jul-17 03:51:47

Thanks to all of you for your caring, helpful advice. For now I'm weighing a few options but I am hindered by the fact that we live so far away from them.

After reading all of your posts, I'm a bit more at ease since I now realize there are many other factors that could cause this, even though they're yet to be determined. For now, I'm thinking that DD1 and I (together) may be able to persuade DD2 to consult a child psychologist and see where that leads.

To answer some of your questions, this started about a year ago. Grandson has ADHD so I'm wondering if that could be a trigger. Grandaughter has a slight speech impairment and is seeing a speech therapist. DD2 had surgery last year..don't know if that could cause anything. Sitting them down and asking is not an option for me until I see them in person. I don't know if DD2 has actually done that.

Nannynoo, a former neighbor had an autistic son who had some issues growing up. He is now an adult with a successful business and I'm told he has a lovely fiancee. Children can outgrow these handicaps.

Thanks once again and I will post an update if there are any new developments.

BlueBelle Fri 21-Jul-17 06:28:49

Children with ADHD can often have a different understanding of what is or isn't acceptable and a compulsiveness that keeps them from having the same stop mechanism ..... and grand daughter is probably watching lots of gyrating sexually explicit videos on a music channel or phone Depending on the level of supervision they may have even watched some porn

Whilst remaining cautious please do remember most abused kids are very very secretive and not at all overt they are normally threatened to never let anyone know They are often withdrawn seem sad and try to disappear into their surrroundings your grandkids sound the very opposite happy and overt Whilst you can never rule it out completely I feel from you pr description that is much more likely to be a visual thing they have picked up

I m not sure whether you are in UK and they in US or vice Versa but don't rush down child psychologists routes until you have explored the visual route more that can open an unnecessary minefield and give the children hang ups for life
It's so hard with distance and you have now obviously put up barriers with your daughter by bringing it up and suggesting child abuse I would think her best first move would be talk to the school as they have already been involved with grandson s inappropriate touching of other pupils ...... and do remember to a seven year old the moves she is making are not sexual she doesn't have that knowledge yet she is copying others

vampirequeen Fri 21-Jul-17 07:35:40

Not all children become withdrawn. I certainly didn't. In fact, because I didn't know it was wrong, I played and taught other children some very sexually inappropriate games.

The dance routines could be copied off the internet but the inappropriate touching needs dealing with. I accept that little boys often go through a period of touching themselves but I've never come across children who touch other children and/or their sibling. Whatever the cause the children need talking to because it's either inappropriate play or something much more sinister.

If you do decide to speak to Social Services be prepared for it to blow up in your face. I know a father who asked for anonymity as he didn't want to cause problems with his ex if his concerns proved to be wrong. The Social Services didn't respect his request and not only told his ex but also the suspected abuser (a close family member of the mother).

That said how can you not talk to Social Services about your fears? After all, God forbid, it may not be an outsider. Is your DD defensive because the abuser is someone much closer to home and she suspects but doesn't want to believe it?

nannynoo Sat 22-Jul-17 01:48:42

Hi Willa I don't see Autism as a handicap and it is not something they grow out of but learn to manage xx

willa45 Sat 22-Jul-17 03:35:30

Nannynoo.....semantics. Here in the us the term 'handicap' is something that you either grow out of or learn to manage. Either way, the outcome is always a positive one. My comment to you was made with good intentions.

willa45 Sat 22-Jul-17 19:59:06

Bluebelle and others.....I reread some of the posts again, and agree there are a few avenues to explore before resorting to Social Services or outside professional help.

Here's my update: To begin with, I called DD2 last night and apologized for upsetting her, explaining that as a mom/grandma, I was being protective and that my only long distance recourse is to shoot off my big mouth. Long story short, it's all good between us again, but the issue at hand does linger, especially the inappropriate touching, which bothers me the most and which hasn't really been resolved (yet).

DD2 told me that after she hung up on me, she sat DGS down to ask him questions. She too suspects that DGS may have seen some adult material on line even though they have very strict parental controls in place. It now appears that DGS knows his way around computers and is quite adept.

Yesterday, he admitted he could disable the PCs at will and restore them again if he wanted to. He then 'pinky swore up and down' that he had never done it, but DD2 isn't convinced that she should believe him.

DD2 reiterated also that he does get extra help at school for his ADHD, and I'm guessing (as some of you pointed out) that the school would have picked up on the more serious issue if there was one.

Re: DGD's dance moves.... DGD did watch one or two dance videos where the women were 'twerking' and that's where the moves are coming from (I had never heard of that). DGD has now been warned that twerking is not 'ladylike' and that mommy and daddy prefer she use her prettier moves instead (she knows which ones they are).

ElaineI Sat 22-Jul-17 23:52:15

Willa there is twerking from males and females on a stupid insurance advert - can't remember which company. I can't stand it and think inappropriate for an advert! Not surprised children pick things up!

BlueBelle Sun 23-Jul-17 07:29:56

I am appalled at the music videos on the music channel on Tv My grandkids are older and beyond influence now as they are out and about with friends and all you can do is hope that the grounding they have been given holds and it seems to have done so far but what I have seen when they come round and ask to put the music channel on is awful They find it all quite normal but I call the movements totally pornographic If a child asks to watch the music channel you would expect it to be ok and not be concerned
Likewise I stopped watching years ago but caught sight of about five minutes of BB last night it was hideously sexual and things like love island

Kids don't have to go onto porno sites to see such stuff

TriciaF Sun 23-Jul-17 10:09:02

I'm so glad to hear that you and your daughter are on good terms again, Willa. I know what it's like when you live far from them and feel so helpless when they have a problem.
And I agree that some of the stuff you see even just on TV is pretty disgusting. Almost impossible to completely protect children from it.