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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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10 yr old female disovered masturbating in school -- what is

Resolved Question:

10 yr old female disovered masturbating in school -- what is the likelyhood of this being a sign of sexual molestation?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

There is an increased risk but I wouldn't place a large "bet" on it. There are really dozens of reasons why young girls would masturbate; but what is interesting in this case is the fact that she is uninhibited enough to do it in school, which reflects poor social judgment for a 10 year old. So the cause for concern is much greater than it would otherwise be. Some cases involve the recent discovery of sexual stimulation through self-exploration and play and the child simply love the pleasurable feelings of it. But as you well know, in other cases, it can relate to sexual experiences that are not appropriate for 10 year olds to engage in, or sexual abuse.

I'm sure you have considered the following: 1) talking with the girl's mother and raising the question about why she thinks the girl may be doing this; guide the mother to not become angry nor retaliate against the daughter, because the behavior certainly is an expression of emotion, regardless of its etiology; 2) does any of the girl's play seem unduly focused on sex play at home or school? 3) does she have knowledge about sex that is beyond her age---the more intimate details about sexual contact and behavior a 10 year old shouldn't really know? 4) any reasonable prospects in the child's environment for molestation to be occurring?

let me pause here and solicit your response.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The school guidance counselor has shown reluctance to follow up on this (not an uncommon response) Not sure whether or not to pursue further action and how to do that given that I'm not the student's teacher and technically am not directly involved
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
Can you take a minute to elaborate how you discovered this: 1) the school counselor is reluctant to follow up but is he/she doing anything whatsoever, or did they do anything at all? 2) does the teacher know i.e., did the act occur in his/her class; 3) you are not directly involved but what is your role? Thanks!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Another teacher made the discovery + asked me what she should do. The guidance counselor was then made aware of the situation and brushed it off saying she was too busy to deal with it.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
If you want to ruffle some feather so to speak, I would suggest to the teacher that made the discovery that she write the teacher a formal letter, telling her that the girl's behavior could be something serious---first, it is certainly behavior that should not be occurring in the school, and second, it could signal that the girl needs to be monitored for other sexually inappropriate behavior, since the activity is sometimes related to sexual abuse. "I am writing this letter to you to document my concern about this matter, and the fact that we have a difference of opinion about it i.e., you are disregarding it and I feel something more should be done to assess the problem further."

Another thing you can do is have the teacher who witnessed this event brainstorm with you some of the other behaviors a child who masturbates in class might do. For example, if it happens again, the parent should be called---though this presents a dilemma because the parent may be involved in the sexual abuse, or know of it, if this occurring. But a referral for an evaluation and therapy should be suggested to the parent if this happens again. Also, if it happens again, division of child services should probably be alerted to this case, and their guidance followed regarding any help or data they might want to help assess the situation further.

Not much the teacher can do other than these steps. There isn't enough at present, to press for a report to division of child protective services, IMO. Also, not much you can do because you have the info. second hand, unless you are the supervisor of the guidance counselor or an administrator above him/her.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your question.
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