Warning Signs



Trigger warning – this post is about child abuse. Please check out my other posts if this in any way will be triggering for you.

Recently, I completed a course on ensuring churches and schools are more safe for children. part of the course reviewed the warning signs of possible sexual abuse in a child’s behaviours.  What follows is the tip sheet from that course shared under the Creative Commons license.

Note that any one sign doesn’t mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:
• During a divorce
• Death of a family member or pet
• Problems at school or with friends
• Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events

Warning Signs in a Child or Adolescent

• Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
• Seems distracted or distant at odd times
• Has a sudden change in eating habits – refusal to eat, loss or increased appetite, trouble swallowing.
• Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
• Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
• Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
• Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
• Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
• Talks about a new older friend
• Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
• Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
• Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children

• An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
• Has new words for private body parts
• Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
• Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
• Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
• Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents

• Self-injury (cutting, burning)
• Inadequate personal hygiene
• Drug and alcohol abuse
• Sexual promiscuity
• Running away from home
• Depression, anxiety
• Suicide attempts
• Fear of intimacy or closeness
• Compulsive eating or dieting

Physical warning signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor.   Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.
• Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
• Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
• Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

What You Can Do If You See Warning Signs

• Create a Safety Plan. Don’t wait for “proof” of child sexual abuse.
• Contact child protective services

Prophetic Panther

I like a good super-hero movie so I watched Black Panther. It was really well done, with an excellent cast, and a positive message. It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun and as I reflected on the story, I realized it’s filled with Biblical/messianic metaphors (technically some are pop-Christian rather than Biblical but I’ll give that a pass this time).

*Spoiler Alert* Turn back now if you haven’t watched it yet.

There’s a historic conflict with a rebellion that develops into a great controversy.
The son represents the father – ensures the kingdom continues.
The son becomes king (messiah) once he’s “baptized.”
A fallen one lays claim to the kingdom thru deception.
The resurrection of a friend a few days after he was “dead.”
One who is a close as a brother becomes commits a betrayal.
The sacrificial death and resurrection of the true king; three women going to the fallen king’s tomb.
The outsider being made an insider by the risen king.
The true king defeating the enemy in a great battle,
The true king brings peace to the world.

What do you think? Did you notice any others?


When I was much younger, my cousin had a baby. She was one of those lost kids, the kind the world takes a toll on, and in short order, her mom was raising her son. His name was Corey.

Back in the day, none of us really understood what FASD was but we’re pretty sure now that Corey had it. It was hard for Corey to fit in with us. He was the first second-cousin and much younger than all of us. We were jerky kids and not very good at integrating him into our visiting. But he was there and he was family.

Over the years I lost touch with Corey. He had a son of his own. He struggled with alcohol. The last time I remember seeing him was at another second cousin’s wedding. It was strange to see the little kid we used to play with as an adult. Where had the time gone?  Unfortunately,, he started drinking and before long, there was an incident, and he and others were embarrassed and angry.

That wedding happened maybe ten years ago. Corey once again slipped into the past. On my mom’s side, we were all fairly close as kids. But as people grow up, move away, start their own families… we lost track. No one is to blame. It just happens but it’s still sad. What’s even sadder is that in all the pictures I have, I can’t find one of Corey. He’s missing.

This morning, I received a call from my sister. My second cousin Corey was killed, murdered. Details are sketchy but the cause of death was massive head trauma. Like most families, ours has been touched by accidental death, by cancer, by old age. All death is a curse but this feels so much worse; evil.

My heart hurts. It hurts for a lost little boy born to a lost young woman. It hurts for a lost family member. It hurts for a man lost to alcohol. It hurts for my second cousin. His name was Corey.



Do you know what you cannot do? I try to write from a position of affirmation and encouragement. But do you know, no matter how hard you try, what you cannot do?

One of my favourite devotional books is Steps to Christ. It’s succinct yet packed with inspiration. Each time I read it, I discover something new. That’s why I was delighted to find a blog from newenglandpastor called,  No, You Can’t.

I encourage you to click the link and read the whole post but I want to give you a highlight.

“What is it that she wants us to understand we cannot do? Check these out (and look them up for yourself so you can see the full context; the page numbers are in the parentheses)…

Change our hearts (18)
Purify the springs of life (18)
Control our thoughts, impulses, affections (47)
Change our hearts (47)
Give to God the heart’s affections (47)
Atone for our past sins (51)
Change our hearts (51)
Make ourselves holy (51)
Resist evil (52)
Originate or produce love (59)
Make ourselves righteous (62)
Perfectly obey the holy law (62)
Become partakers of the life which Christ came to give (67)
Bear fruit of ourselves (68)

It’s like a broken record – especially the idea that we cannot “change our hearts,” which she says three times!

…This tells me, among other things, that simply telling people what to do is not enough – because simply telling them what to do does not give them the ability and moral strength to accomplish it. They will simply become better informed sinners.”

Wow. This post is right on the money. Please check it out; I know you’ll be blessed but then come back and tell me what it means to you to know what you cannot do.