Child Sexual Abuse: Recognizing the Problem

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Child sexual abuse is frighteningly common all over the world and in all socio-economic groups: Despite of high rate of non-disclosure and difficulty in substantiating child molestation, statistics shows that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are molested before they reach 18 years of age.

Molested children are left bewildered and devastated; unable to narrate the incidence to anyone for fear, shame and loss of faith.

Child molestation is usually done by a trusted significant adult from child’s intimate environment.

Children’s psycho social development does not accept sexual stimulation. Intimidated older children, who understand that sexual exploitation is wrong, are trapped between affection and loyalty towards the abuser.

Several agencies are working for prevention of child molestationbut yet it is widely prevalent. Available statistics sum up to about one child sexual abuse every minute somewhere in our world.

Though proclaimed criminal activity, more than 60 percent of the cases are never reported and even when reported majority of the offenders escape legal sentence.

Child sexual abuse: Perpetrator’s manipulation process 

Perpetrator's Manipulative Moves

Perpetrator manipulates child, a minor who is unable to give informed consent, for self-sexual gratification in any form and extent.

The inequality of age and built between the abuser and the abused is significant. Thereby the perpetrator with his/her authoritative position and emotional bond tricks, forces or intimidates the child into desired sexual activity. He/she may even use the child to create child pornography.

Violence is usually not involved in child molestation. Gifts, care and intense attention are given to win confidence and have easy and frequent opportunities to be alone with the child.

Once sexually abused, the child is sternly warned from sharing the secret incident with anyone else.

Scared and powerless in face perpetrators repeated demands, the child is abused repeatedly with increasing invasiveness and over months before anyone can sense the ongoing hideous activity that leaves a permanent mark on the developing brain.

Who are child sexual abuse perpetrators?

Parents are commonly involved in several forms of child abuse, but usually not in child sexual abuse. Nevertheless, incest are common – more so in girl victims. Perpetrator is often someone within their family, such as parent, stepparent, grandparent, uncle, cousin or a trusted close friend of the family. Perpetrator, who is an outsider, is usually well respected and authoritative adult from child’s environment.

Child to child abuse and inter sibling sexual abuse also do occur, which are commonly dismissed by most as children’s harmless play. An older child, usually a teenager, tries it on a younger children to satisfy his/her own sexual curiosity. 

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Does sexual abuse of children occur in single child setting?

Majority of times child molestation occurs with one perpetrator and one child unit, but in a quarter of reported cases pre puberty children between age 6 and 11 years were sexually abused in group of victims setting.   

What are the warning signs of child sexual abuse?

Parents, teachers, care takers and all sensitive adults in child’s environment do easily pick several significant clues that indicate all is not well with the child. Usual child parenting concept that children often behave outlandishly makes us overlook important warning signs of child molestation:

  1. Hesitant to talk about the day; experiences and disappointments as children usually do.

  2. Playful child suddenly behaves depressed and withdrawn.

  3. Scared look for no apparent reason.

  4. Crying or distressed without provocation.

  5. Wakes up sweating, screaming or shaking.

  6. Gets nightmares.

  7. Bedwetting or passage of feces in a child who had achieved bladder and bowel control.

  8. Newly developed interest in fingers sucking or thumb sucking.

  9. Loss of appetite or other eating problems that were not there earlier.

  10. Injuries like bruises, rashes, cuts, genital pain or bleeding that cannot be explained by child’s usual routine.

  11. Sudden fear of being alone.

  12. Reluctance to be in company of a certain person.

  13. Interest in sex related talks and objects that is odd for the age and for the known nature of the child.

  14. Abrupt knowledge of sex shows up in sexually abused children's creativity during play and in drawings.

  15. Way of expressing affection changes and does not fit the usual childish way.

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