Child sexual abuse

Effects that are even more devastating arise from sexual abuse, a serious crime, and the most damaging of all abusive behaviours. Sexual abuse of children is particularly appalling. It is a silent, hidden crime that robs children of innocence, and is global and common. It exists among all social classes, although most reported incidents come from poorer families. The statistics are disquieting. It is estimated that one third of sexually abused children never disclose the experience to anyone. We know, however, that up to 30% of girls and 23% of boys suffer some form of sexual abuse. Canadian reports estimate that 6 out of 10 victims of sexual assault are under 17.
Sexually abusive behaviour is wide ranging. It can be covert or masked by the pretence that it is caring for the child, for example, fondling when washing the child, or teaching the facts of life in such a manner as to receive sexual gratification for it. The child does not see this as sexual abuse, but it has a profoundly negative effect, and often it is only in therapy that it is labelled for what it is – sexual abuse. The real test of sexual abuse is that it has a sexual purpose.
Mic Hunter’s blog, Abused Boys, gives a comprehensive account of the various types of sexual abuse. It also contains stories from people who were sexually abused as children. Some of these include indecent exposure, touching the child in a sexual manner, and using sexualised conversation. Some abusers get sexual pleasure by making the child dress in over-revealing clothes, stripping and spanking him/her, by inappropriate kissing, or making the child watch another being sexually abused, or by sexualising the relationship between the child and a pet. Some abusers make children watch pornographic material, or partake in pornographic videos, expose them to an act of sexual intercourse between others, masturbate in their presence, force them to have oral sex, and penetrate them with objects or with a finger. Using the internet to groom children for sexual activity is also sexual abuse.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

Posted in abuse, Child Abuse
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