Counselor speaks on impacts, warning signs of child sexual abuse

Counselor speaks on impacts, warning signs of child sexual abuse
Updated: May. 7, 2018 at 6:40 PM CDT
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FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) - An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that over the last 10 years, Fort Sill officials have investigated six cases of child-on-child sexual assault.

The report from the AP says Army Criminal Investigators opened cases at Fort Sill for those six cases, concluding five of them were true.

Fort Sill Officials released a statement Monday saying,

"Our military children are precious, and we continue to do everything we can to protect them as they grow up in our diverse communities. Sexual assault is a crime. Fort Sill personnel are trained and report abuse to Child Protective Services or to the police as appropriate. The Army addresses violence prevention programs through Army Family Team Building, Family Advocacy programs, Army Community services, and through a Child and Family Behavioral Health System which includes:

- Behavioral Health consultation for children, adolescents and families

- School-based Behavioral Health in locations with on-post schools

- Community outreach at large installations to collaborate with on-post and local community agencies that serve Army children and families

- Virtual health resources to provide regional teleconsultation support for Primary Care Managers and Behavioral Health providers

- Virtual Behavioral Healthcare for sites with limited Behavioral Health Resources. If you see something, say something. Anyone aware of sexual assault should report it to law enforcement officials immediately by calling Lawton-Fort Sill Police at 911"

7NEWS reached out to Eudella Reynolds, a counselor at the Lawton Community Health Center, who said, unfortunately, this is an issue that affects people all across the world. But, she said there are some warning signs that might allow you to put those responsible behind bars if you see it.

Reynolds said instances of sexual assault at an early age can have a huge impact on how a child develops.

"It can be very traumatizing. It can cause sleep disturbances, nightmares, it can make the child very hyper-vigilant or very fearful to be around certain individuals. It can also make them fearful to go certain places, it develops lots of trust issues," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said there's not one telltale sign for parents or guardians that something has happened, but there are some things you can be on the lookout for.

"If they all the sudden start to withdraw from family members, they become clingy or don't want to be left alone. If they have nightmares or any sleep interruptions. If they start to seem very sad, depressed, distracted or distant," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said these are just a few of the several signs that could be associated with a traumatic experience and that it's up to family members and loved ones to help the child through it.

"Make sure to let the child know that no matter what, they can trust them, they can come to them and talk to them about anything. Keeping the communication open and knowing that it's safe to do so and that the child's not going to get in trouble," Reynolds said.

She said if something has happened to a child, it's important to address it as early as possible.

"Childhood trauma ends up carrying over to the life of an adult. With trauma in children, it can be addressed early on and they can recover from that. With adults, it's a lot more difficult but it can impair their work performance, it can impair their relationships, it can also impair their marital relationships. So, it has an impact on them all the way around," Reynolds said.

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