Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is an alarming reality in our community today. Parents have the unique responsibility of protecting their children from harm and advocating for their children when they are having difficulties in their environment. .
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is an alarming reality in our community today. Parents have the unique responsibility of protecting their children from harm and advocating for their children when they are having difficulties in their environment. The statistics on child sexual abuse are frightening.
- One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen.
- The majority of the rape victims Ripples International has come across have happened when the child is below thirteen years.
- 75% of abuses are family members and additional 10% are acquaintances of the child.
- The most common abusers of boys and girls are heterosexual male relatives, step fathers, mother’s boyfriends and fathers are the most common perpetrators and other male relatives (uncles, brothers, etc.) follow closely behind in frequency.
- It is rarely a one-time occurrence; the average length of an incestuous relationship is three years.
- The average sexual abuse victim is between seven and eleven years old, though abuse can start in early infancy and continue through young adulthood.
- Since 2007 to date Ripples International has rescued 84 girls all below 15years .90% of the above cases are from within Meru while 70% of those cases being close relatives. These are just a few of the cases that have been reported as majority of the cases go unreported due to fear of family stigma.
It can be very frightening to consider your child vulnerability to sexual abuse. This open forum is intended to assist parent understand child sexual abuse, educate their children on the issue and respond if their child has been sexually abused. We shall be tackling different topics each month and your comments inputs are highly appreciated.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse is sexual contact or activity between a child and somebody older (while consensual sexual activity or exploration between children may be normal, if one child is four years older than the other, the activity is abusive and illegal). The sexual contact or activity may be based on logical pressure, threats, bribery or fear. Even if a child seems to co-operate, it is abuse because there is a power imbalance between a child and someone older.
Child sexual abuse includes;
- Touching, fondling or sexual kissing,
- Penetrating a child’s vagina or anus with fingers or objects,
- Vaginal, anal or oral sex,
- Exposing self to a child,
- Showing a child pornographic pictures or films,
- Taking sexual pictures or films of a child.
Child sexual abuse can also include activities not readily assumed as sexual abuse. The activities are still sexually inappropriate and are often done with the intent of luring a child into abusive sexual interaction. These include;
- Denying privacy (e.g. not allowing the bathroom or bedroom door to be closed),
- Behaving towards a child in a sexual manner,
- Sharing sexual thoughts, fantasies or issues with a child,
- Having inappropriate nudity in the house,
- Sexual activity with a child present,
- Displaying inappropriate interest in a child’s sexual organs or sexual development,
How does it affect children?
Child sexual Abuse often leads to difficulties that last throughout adulthood if the abuse issues remain untreated. Adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse report;
- Low self-esteem, depression, self hatred and poor body image,
- Self destructive behavior including substance abuse,
- Self blame, shame and guilt,
- Boundary issues (e.g., people pleasing or an inability to say no),
- Inability to feel,
- Sleep problems(e.g. insomnia),
- Nightmare and flashbacks,
- Disassociation or spacing out for long periods of time, particularly when faced with anxiety-provoking situations.
Are there indications of sexual abuse?
The following symptoms may indicate Childhood sexual Abuse but are not definite signs that a child has been abused. If your child is exhibiting one or more of the following behaviors it is likely that they are having difficulties in some area of life and warrant special attention. Maybe you should see a child councilor;
- Having sexual knowledge or acting out sexually,
- Depression, excessive worry, fear or over-seriousness,
- Any sudden change in mood,
- Strained family relationships,
- Poor self-image, low self-esteem,
- Regressive behaviors like overage thumb sucking or bed wetting,
- Recurrent physical complaints (e.g. “my stomach hurts”),
- Fear or extreme dislike of particular person or place,
- Public masturbation,
- Venereal disease and other infections or difficulty in the genital/anal areas.
If a child lets you know she or he has been abused, believe them. Don’t show anger. The child will think you are angry with them. Reassure the child the abuse was not their faults and they are still lovable and seek professional help./paragraph]