Where to Look for Warning Signs - Creative Arts + Free Play

Clues in the behavior of abused kids creating art or engaging in free playtime may reveal Warning Signs of childhood sexual abuse. They are usually afraid to disclose the abuse, and fearful that someone will find out, so they keep a tight rein on their emotion and expressive work. To the other extreme, they may feel so chaotic that their art and play becomes chaotic also.

Click a specific Warning Sign below to dig deeper. You’ll see an explanation, and a Toolkit built specifically for each Warning Sign. Just order the free Tools and get started helping a vulnerable child!

Creative Arts
Restricted expression  and color with little emotional content

Chaotic composition and content with vibrant color
One or more figures (usually people or animals) dominate another

One or more figures (usually people or animals) are sexually provocative
Figures appear sad or have little interaction between them
Boundaries of figures are being violated in stories
Emergency situations depicted in stories with no help available

Free Play
Isolated, sullen or spacey especially with multi-layered clothing or long sleeves unsuited for weather
Younger kids “act out” sexualized stories
Playing with genitals or masturbating
Invades boundaries of others, or allows others to invade theirs
Older kids never flirt or show interest sexually, seem guarded
Accident prone, doesn’t seem aware of or protect body

Apologizes excessively

"Spaces out" or internally preoccupied to the detriment of self and friendships