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How to spot, treat, prevent sexual abuse in children, adults

Jerry Dunn (left) and Linda McQuary (right) talked about how to spot, treat and prevent sexual abuse.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
Jerry Dunn (left) and Linda McQuary (right) talked about how to spot, treat and prevent sexual abuse.

Last year, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater St. Louis at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, interviewed about 700 child victims of sexual abuse. They found that about 90 percent of the perpetrators were someone the child liked, loved or lived with.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh went Behind the Headlines to discuss the issue of child sexual abuse raised by the trial of sports physician Larry Nassar. Joining the discussion was Jerry Dunn, executive director at the advocacy center and Linda McQuary, director of forensic operations.

McQuary said that often, adults tend to not believe children who express that they’ve been molested.

“We know, through statistics, that most kids try to tell up to four times before someone listens,” McQuary said. “Us adults try to jump to explaining something to a kid; giving it rationalization versus just saying ‘kid, tell me more about that.’”

Dunn said parents should look for significant changes in behavior including changes in sleeping and eating habits. She also said to look for triggers, where victims might have a different reaction to an otherwise normal situation or location due to being molested.  

“It might be that, not only did these young women not want to go back and visit Dr. Nassar with any sort of medical issue, but they might have even generalized that and not wanted to seek medical treatment for any reason,” Dunn said.

More information on how to help prevent and treat trauma from abuse

Listen to the full discussion:


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.