It can be very difficult to talk about sexual abuse and even more difficult to acknowledge that sexual abuse happens to children of all ages including infants every day. According to the NCANDS (National child abuse and neglect data system), an estimated 9.3% of confirmed or sustained child abuse and neglect cases in 2005 involved sexual abuse. This figure translates into over 83,800 victims in 2005 alone. Other studies suggest that even more children suffer abuse and neglect than what is reported to child protective service agencies. Statistics indicate that girls are more frequently the victims of sexual abuse, but the number of boys is also significant.
What is sexual abuse?
At the extreme end of spectrum, sexual abuse includes sexual intercourse or its deviations. Yet all offences that involve sexually touching a child, as well as non-touching offences that involve sexually touching a child, as well as non-touching offences and sexual exploitation, are just as harmful and devastating to a child’s well being. Touching sexual offenses include:
* Fondling (Stroke or caress lovingly or erotically)
* Making a child touch a sexual organ belonging to an adult. * Penetrating a child’s vagina or anus no matter how slight with a penis or any other non medical object. Non-touching sexual offences include:
* Engaging in indecent exposure.
* Exposing children to pornographic material.
* Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse. * Masturbating in front of a child.
Sexual exploitation can include:
* Engaging a child or soliciting a child for the purpose of prostitution. * Using a child to film, photograph, or model pornography
What are the effects of child sexual abuse?
The effects of child sexual abuse extend far beyond childhood. Sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and creates loss of trust, feelings of guilt, and self abusive behaviour. It can also lead to antisocial behaviour, and other serious problems. It can also lead to difficulty with intimate relationships later in life. The sexual victimization of children is ethically and morally wrong.
A specialist called Paul E Mullen did research on ‘Child sexual abuse’ and found out the following;
The manner in which the long-term effects of child sexual abuse have come to be conceptualised reflects, in no small measure, the very particular circumstances that surrounded the revelation of child sexual abuse as an all too common event in the lives of our children. The first phase of modern research into child sexual abuse was not triggered by observations on child victims, but by the self-disclosures of adults who had the courage to publicly give witness to their abuse as children. These early self-revealed victims, exclusively women, had often been the victims of incestuous abuse of the grossest kind, and plausibly attributed many of their current personal difficulties to their sexual abuse as children. This contrasts with the emergence of child abuse as a public health and research issue that has been driven by the observations of professionals caring for abused children. Implications
The way child sexual abuse was placed on the public and health agendas put a stronger emphasis on the adult consequences of abuse than on the immediate implications for an abused child. It also emphasised the psychiatric implications of abuse because self-declared victims tended to focus on these, and these revelations often occurred in a broadly therapeutic context with mental health professionals. Early research into the effects of child sexual abuse frequently employed groups of adult psychiatric patients (Carmen et al. 1984; Mills et al. 1984; Bryer et al. 1987; Jacobson and Richardson 1987; Craine et al. 1988; Oppenheimer et al. 1985) which further reinforced the emergence of an adult-focused psychiatric discourse about child sexual abuse. It should also be noted that the...