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A Sudden Behavior Change: One Sign Safe Adults Should Look For To Protect Children

A former volunteer of a Parks and Recreations Board in Texas will serve a 64-year sentence and an 18-year sentence, consecutively, according to a county district attorney's office, after being found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl under the age of 14.

The perpetrator began abusing the victim after he moved into the family's home. He was able to hide the abuse by "projecting an image of a good father figure and coaching the child's athletic teams." Officials described him as a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

The girl began to have behavioral problems two years after the perpetrator moved into the home, and she told a friend that he was abusing her.

The young girl told jurors she hid the abuse for fear that the perpetrator's daughter, who also lived in the home, would have to move if he was charged. LaVendrick Smith "Child molester who served on Southlake's parks and rec board gets 82 years in prison" www.dallasnews.com (Nov. 30, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

The source article mentions that the victim began to have behavioral problems after the perpetrator moved in and stayed. A sudden change in behavior is a possible sign of child sexual abuse.

Here are some behavioral and emotional signs safe adults should watch for:


  • Any extreme change in behavior
  • Eating disorders
  • Withdrawal
  • Secretiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Sudden refusal to participate in physical activities
  • Sudden refusal to change clothes in front of others
  • Regression to infantile behavior
  • Multiple personalities
  • Delinquent behavior
  • High-risk behaviors
  • Failing grades
  • Poor concentration
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Nightmares or bedwetting
  • Bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Discussing sex and sexual acts openly
  • Touching other children or adults in a sexual manner
  • Running away from home
  • Poor hygiene
  • Depression
  • Unusual attraction to, or fear of, adults
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