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Sexual Abuse among Young Children?

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My 6 year old son told me tonight that one of his friends, while riding in the backseat of the car (the friend’s father was driving)put his hand in his pants and touched his penis. My son said that he asked his friend to stop and he did not stop. When asked what the friend’s father did my son said that he was driving. When I asked my son how he felt when his friend did this, he said “bad”.

There has been one other friend (also 6 years old) that while on a play-date asked my son to pull down his pants and if he didn’t he wouldn’t be his friend. I discussed this with the mother, who acted “sensitive” to the issue but nothing was never investigated and the son was just reprimanded.

Is this normal for this age or should I be worried? I haven’t suffered any sexual abuse in my life but through the media I see how rampant it is.

My son is a loving, mild mannered boy, and it is my job to protect him. What should I do?

Sexual Abuse among Young Children?

Answered by on -


Thank you for your important question. Some exploration by young children is normal. But perhaps the more important question is how your son reacts.

The find help tab at the top of the page will help you identify therapists in your area. You are looking for someone with a specialty in working with children. Often in these instances I look for somebody with expertise in play therapy and who has dealt with children who have experienced sexual abuse. You want someone with this experience in their background because the children may not have the words yet to describe all the feelings.

Your sensitivity to your son is the important element in his well-being. I would look for a professional in the area who has significant experience with children, call them so that you can establish a connection, and then watch to see if there are any mood changes or unusual reactions that your son shows. Here is a list of symptoms that you may want to watch for. If you notice any changes I would bring your child to the therapist right away.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Sexual Abuse among Young Children?

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Sexual Abuse among Young Children?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.