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Child Sexual Abuse: A Few Important Things To Know

Mar 08,2022

According to the Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute, around 95% of total sexual abuse cases can be prevented by education and awareness in society. On the other hand, the National Sex Offenders Registry expects a typical pedophile to commit 117 sexual assaults throughout his life. The statistics are surprising and mind-boggling. However, there still exists a huge American population that falls behind when we talk about having relevant knowledge regarding the subject. 

Any kind of sexual molestation against children accounts for child sexual abuse. Experiencing sexual assault can lead to devastating impacts on the life of a child both, psychological as well as physical effects. A child can develop mental health problems like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Additionally, research has shown that a child goes through deleterious physical effects like chances of getting sexually transmitted diseases, heavy bleeding, and injuries in body organs. 

Sexual molestation among children cannot happen in the same way as in the case of adult sexual assaults. A few important things about child sexual assaults: 

  • The perpetrator, in most incidents, tries to manipulate the child to persuade him/her to act in the way they want. 

  • Most often, the abuser is a known person, a family member, or a relative. As per a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, three out of four children were victimized by someone they knew well. 

  • Molesters engage in child grooming for long periods. 

  • The sexual assaults take place in repeated episodes after weeks, months, or even years. 

Forms of Child Sexual Abuse 

A report by the Bureau of Justice shows that 0.9% of children aged 12-14 and an additional 0.7% of adolescents between the age of 15 to 17 were victims of rape/sexual assault. Nevertheless, apart from rape, there are various other types of child molestations as well. 

  • Sex trafficking 

  • Masturbating in front of the child 

  • Sexual intercourse 

  • Exposing sexual organs to a minor 

  • Showing child pornography 

  • Using a child for producing child pornographic videos 

  • Child grooming 

What are the risk factors that can lead to victimization? 

When we talk about child sexual assaults, various factors make children more vulnerable to getting victimized like: 

  • Female children are more vulnerable to getting assaulted. However, in some developing countries of America, the stats suggest that male children are at a much bigger risk of getting molested. 

  • Children with a single parent are also vulnerable to being victimized. 

  • Isolated or unaccompanied children 

  • Children with mental impairment 

  • Adolescents living in poor conditions are also unsafe as per WHO 

  • Parents suffering from mental health illness or addictions 

  • Adopted, step-children and children in foster care.  

Psychological impacts on victims 

Victimization at a tender age leads to a multitude of psychological impacts on the children. Different children react distinctly to a mishap like experiencing an assault. A few of the psychological effects are: 

Delinquent Behavior 

Recent research by NIJ suggests that more than 12% of sexually victimized children engaged in Index crimes at some point in their lives. The facts state that boys, in comparison with girls, are more likely to commit the offense. 

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) 

The rates of experiencing lifetime PTSD differ drastically in the case of sexually assaulted children than in children who have not been sexually assaulted. A 28.2% of males with a sexual abuse history develop PTSD for a lifetime. However, a much lower (5.4%) percentage of boys without sexual abuse develop lifetime PTSD symptoms. Similarly, in the case of female children, slightly more than 7% of girls show lifetime PTSD symptoms, but 29.8%, more than four times the previous figure, have PTSD for a lifetime. 

Suicidal Behavior 

Children who have experienced sexual assault at some point in their life develop the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behavior. According to one of the researches done by NCBI, about 80% of the total suicide attempts show a history of child molestation. Child sexual victimization is not only a significant factor that leads to an increased number of suicides, but it also results in non-suicidal self-harms among the victims. 

Children are the future of any country. Not being able to safeguard our youth means not being able to secure our future. It is indispensable that every human being, regardless of their age, gender, color, nationality, caste, or creed, lives a free life where they do not have to be threatened by the people around them. As a parent also, one should take a few measures to ensure that their little ones are safe: 

  • Talk to your children. Pay special attention if your child suddenly starts isolating. 

  • Believe what your child says

  • Educate your little ones about the inappropriate touches and behaviors

  • If you're leaving your children to daycares, take time and choose an appropriate one. 

  • Try spending time with them as much as possible

  • Tell them about the danger signs

If your child or anyone you know might be in trouble, it is crucial to seek immediate help. Don't stay shut and raise your voice!