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To feel like we're enjoying our lives, we need to be loved by someone and learn how to love them back. Both humans need nurturing and caring in order to thrive and develop positive self-esteem. We just deserve to be loved by the people in our lives, no matter how old they are. Children, in particular, need extra attention and care as they mature. They must feel safe and secure in all places they travel or reside. It is, however, unfortunate that not all children across the globe receive adequate shelter and protection as they develop into mature beings. A lack of proper nurturing of young children from the time of birth is evidenced among many families and communities who mistreats and misuse children at their tender ages. Recently I watch a movie known as “Split,” which was released in 20th January 2017. In the movie, there is a male character named Kevin who has twenty-three distinct personalities, that is, he has dissociative identity disorder (DDI). One powerful identity in Kevin is that he kidnapped three teenage girls and locked them up in a room. One of the girls is Casey, who distanced herself from society and her stories have remained in silent mode. Later on, I found out that both of characters share a common condition, that is, they did not grow up in a happy childhood. Kevin undergoes physical abuse from his mother while Casey has always been sexually abused by her uncle since she was a little girl until now.
Child abuse happens every day and every single minute around the world. Child abuse can be emotional (poignant abuse) or physical abuse. It can also involve sexual abuse, neglect or domestic violence. The rate of child sexual abuse continues to remain high. Child sexual abuse (CSA) is the use of children who are under the age of 18 to satisfy the sexual needs of adults (Deblinger et al. 291). It could be direct or non-direct like sexual touching, penetration, and sexual acts like flashing, masturbation, peeping, rape or exposure to pornographic pictures or movies (Meyer 73). This is not a new topic anymore, but it is still painful and sensitive to be discussed. However, if we as bystanders fail to take any action and remain silent as victims then who would speak up for them? Our silences are not going to let this fade by itself, but it would make easier for people with sexual desire to interfere with the lives of young adolescents. There are several reasons why kids are afraid to tell their parents or close relatives about the abuser, but they share the same characteristic in which the victims do not have enough strength and power to raise their voices. The consequence for this is that the pain they have been through their childhood may result in a physical and mental scar for the rest of their life. The scar could be short term or long term, depends on the environment and people around the victims. My goal in this paper is to bring out the prevention techniques for other children to be aware and not be trapped in this kind of unpleasant situation. Since the rate of Child Sexual Abuse is still too high, the US public schools should interact more with parents or guardians of the children so that they can have a better sense of knowing how to protect their children. The paper also discusses the effects of child sexual abuse in children and throughout their lives as they grow into adults. Moreover, the paper provides the historical backgrounds and statistical data on the prevalence of this evil activity in different states.
Historical Background and Types of Child Sexual Abuse
The historical cases of sexual exploitation of children continue to remain an epicenter of political, legal, and social concern. Such cases have been a big concern to the public for over the last 200 years, with a lot of interest being taken in the period between 1880 and the First World War (Mrazek and Kempe 428). Many cases sexual abuses of children have also been reported from 1960 up to date. Many societies have rebuked the sexual abuse of young people, and they continue to consider it as an evil that needs confrontation. In the early seasons of the 19th century, sexual abuse was very rare especially in the ordinary loving families (Mrazek and Kempe 429). It is unfortunate that this immoral heavier has widely developed with many cases arising from the close relatives of the victimized children.
Children experience different types of sexual abuse within their families or communities. The two categories of sexual abuse include contact abuse and non-contact abuse. In contact abuse, the offender, who may be an adult or older child touches the body of the victim, that is, he makes physical contact with the child (Terry 517). On the contrary, non-contact abuse involves using other techniques than touching to assault a child. These activities for non-contact abuse include grooming, exploitation, and persuasion of children to perform sexual acts (Terry 518). Young children may be encouraged to watch pornographic movies or pictures online. Some parents exploit their children sexually to gain money or power. These sexual abuses have dangerous effects such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder on the child not only during childhood but also during the adulthood stages of life.
Demographics and Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse
A large number of challenges make it difficult to analyze and provide the correct data on the number of cases involving assault of children across the world. The major challenge is the lack of adequate and correct data because many cases of children abuse do not end up in court. Children who are assaulted do not have the ability to report cases; others are coward due to coercions from their family members who abuse them on frequent occasions (Meinck et al. 85). However, following the report by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 9.2% of offended kids in 2010 were sexually assaulted. A report by the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CACRC) shows that the rates of sexual assaults of boys and girls in the United States are 5% and 20% respectively. It also shows that about 20 percent of adult females and about 10 percent of males can recall an incident of sexual abuse in their lives when they were young (Barth et al. 475). The same report by David Finkelhor of CACRC shows that 16 percent of youths aged between 14 and 17 have been victims of child sexual abuse. The children who are most at risk to sexual assault are aged between 7 and 13 years old (Finkelhor et al. 330). Moreover, the 2003 National Institute of Justice reports that 75 percent of adolescents, who were victims of CSA, were assaulted by someone whom they knew. In most cases, the abuser was one of the closest relatives of the victim. Studies conducted in 1986, 2000, 2002, and 2005 found that about 63 percent of women who suffered from CSA when they were young reported a rape case or attempts of rape after the age of fourteen (Barth et al. 478).
On the global map, the high prevalence of child sexual abuse still poses a challenge to many countries. The meta-analysis of 2012 projected a global prevalence of 12.7 percent on average. The prevalence for girls in the global scale was 18 percent while that of boys was 7.6 percent. Based on regions, Africa leads with a prevalence of 20.2 percent for girls and 19.3 percent for boys (Barth et al. 480). South America records show that 134 out of 1000 girls and 138 out of 1000 boys were affected by the child sexual abuse in 2012. The United States, on the contrary, has a prevalence of 20.1 percent and 8 percent for girls and boys respectively. The continent that has the lowest rate of sexual assaults among children is Asia, which has 11.3 percent and 4.1 percent of girls and boys respectively as victims (Barth et al. 480).
On the demographics of the offenders, most sexual abuses are carried out by relatives of the victims. The majority of these sexual offenders are always males even though the percentages may vary. The number of female offenders is always very low because many cases go unreported due to fear or persuasions. Studies report that the number female perpetrators that reach the court of law are always between 1 to 4 females out of 100 abusers. Research carried out by the US Department of Education in 1993 showed that only 18 out of the 4402 pedophilic offenders sampled were female. Currently, the rate of women offenders stands at 3 percent (Finkelhor et al. 331).
Child-on-child sexual abuse is another important aspect of sexual assault among children. This involves one or many other children or adolescent youths engaging in sexual behaviors with another child without the involvement of an adult (Terry 519). The group of other children uses physical force, threats or emotional manipulation to compel their fellow into sexual acts. Siblings have also been reported to victimize their brothers or sisters in sexual acts at tender ages.
In the same list of sexual offenders, parents and other close relatives who are old in age continue to interfere with the future lives of young children. Many parents have been reported to be engaging in sexual practices with their young daughters and sons. Letsfindthem, in his article, “The Worst Case of Child Abuse In US History – The Murder of Baby Brianna,” discusses how Brianna Lopez, a newborn baby from Mexico, succumb to death after 153 days of suffering. Lopez survived the 153 days with cruel parents who slapped, punched, and even raped her at that tender age (Letsfindthem). Such cases go unreported because the children do not have voices for themselves. The bystanders have also been in a comma only to engage in their affairs forgetting about the young children who are abused on a daily basis.
Causes of Child Sexual Abuse
There are many causes of sexual insult among children. The first cause is poverty that experience among families render children less fortunate and thus cannot meet their basic needs. Young adolescents are manipulated with material goods such as sweets or even money to practice sexual activities (Meinck et al. 87). Mature people continuously take advantage of the less fortunate kids and misuse them through sexual activities. Some parents who cannot provide basic needs to their children helplessly render their children to the public to carry out sexual acts for financial gains. Some kids are also orphans and vulnerable, that is, they might have some physical and mental challenges (Meinck et al. 87). The abusers take advantage over these conditions because the children are not in a position to report them to any law enforcement agency. Other families and communities isolated children due to their physical or mental conditions, and this renders them outcast hence creating more chances for sexual abuse.
Another important cause of sexual harassment among children is the lack of education. Education provides light to all aspects of life. Many preadolescent children do not have knowledge of what to do in case of an attempt to sexual abuse. Some children who can confidently speak out fail to report because of low self-esteem they experience after sexual harassment from their relatives whom they highly respect (Katy). Some parents have little or no education on how to nurture and ensure proper safety of their kids. Some of them are fully engaged at their working places to the extent of forgetting about the affairs of their children. They leave their children to house girls and boys who molest them because they take advantage of the absence of parents. Lack of education has caused many parents because they cannot find the right places and personnel to channel the cases of sexual assault. Many cases of sexual victimization of children never end in the courts of law because parents render into indoor solutions within the community (Katy). Some do not want to betray their community members especially if they receive supports from the offenders. The justice for children is left in the open air because no one would be ready to fight for them at law courts.
Drugs and drug abuse are highly associated with rape cases. Many people especially relatives engage in sexual assault due to lack of consciousness (Schetky and Green 158). The majority do it under the influence of drugs. When an individual is not sober, he can end up in doing immoral activities without noticing. They would only realize later after causing physical and mental problems to the innocent children. Unemployment is also reported to render many people idle and, therefore, have nothing to engage in apart from doing evil activities in the communities. One who is not engaged in other activities finds it easier to victimize young children through sexual activities (Schetky and Green 160).
Another cause of child sexual abuse is the domestic conflict between the parents. When the relationship between the father and mother is characterized by quarreling and fighting, the father will seek love from his daughter (Trobak). This might start by hugging and kissing then the abuse would begin the incidental touches. The victim might know that what the father does to her is wrong but would not find it easier to report because the father might also be the only source of love and care to the young girl in the family (Neuman).
Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse poses many effects on the victims that deter their successful and development. These effects can be short-term or long-term, and they are divided into physical and psychological effects. Psychological effects are indicated by features such as depression, eating disorders, and poor self-esteem among others. Physical effects, on the contrary, are characterized by damages on the internal and external organs of the victim, infections, and neural damage among others.
A large number of people suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder after sexual assault. This disorder disturbs their thoughts, feelings, and dreams (Barrera et al. 626). Many girls, who experienced rape scenarios, suffer from the long-term disorder that may take months or even years to heal. The victims show a lot of fear and anxiety when responding to people who share some characteristics of those who abused them. They may experience many difficulties when engaging in adult relationships or adult sexual activities. Their interests in engaging in love affairs with opposite sex reduce because of the permanent memory of the assaults that was done to them at tender ages (Barrera et al. 628). Some victims may feel angry with the adults who were close to him or her but failed to offer protection at the times of victimization. Other victims may feel angry with themselves for having not been in a position to stop the abuse or report the case for judicial actions.
Another effect of child sexual exploitation is stigmatization. Many victims of such abuses devalue themselves and suffer from solitude because they believe that they do not share the character traits with those who were protected. At a younger age, the victims may create barriers between them and others. They would live in their own environment avoiding interaction with other children whom they would consider safe in the community. At mature stages of their lives, victims of child sexual abuse might hide from communities and regret to have been the cause of their problems (Barrera et al. 633). They would also suffer from a low self-esteem.
Physical injury is another effect that innocent children suffer from. During sexual abuse through ways such as anal, vaginal, and oral sex, severe damages and bleedings occur on the internal organs of the victims (Leclerc and Felson 118). These injuries may be so severe that can even result in death cases. Some culprits apply lubricants and protection to inhibit injuries that arise from sexual assault (Leclerc and Felson 119). However, the majority of abusers never cares about the condition of the child and, therefore, leaves a child with injuries that may be long-term. Such victims would later find problems in conception due to complications caused in the wombs due to sexual assaults at young ages.
Many infections also arise from child sexual abuse. The innocent children contract HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections because they cannot inhibit the assaults. By 2015, 1.8 million children, who are less than15 years old, were living with HIV/AIDS (Fattah and Kabir 905). Out of this, 38 percent are reported to have contracted the disease through sexual abuse from the family members. Since the children lack sufficient vaginal fluid, the chances of infections are always higher in them compared to adults. Some victims would suffer from poor physical health conditions such as obesity and aches when continuously abused by adults.
Poor parenting style also affects the adults who were sexually abused at their tender ages. The majority of people would not appreciate the role of a family to the community. They would view it as a source of trouble to young children and youths. For those who venture into it, the memory of individual experience from sexual abuse would make them overprotect their kids (Barrera et al. 637). Such acts like overprotection may not be healthy for the growing children because they would lack the freedom to associate freely with their age mates. Some people may develop the spirit of revenge on the children of their enemies. Other victims may develop self-destructive behaviors such as drug and substance or even attempts to commit suicide.
Prevention and Control of Child Sexual Abuse
Since the rate of sexual victimization of children continues to rise in different countries and communities, families, schools, and communities should consider some initiative to prevent or reduce this menace. Every part of the environments where children live must take necessary action, or else sexual abuse of children will remain a daily and common activity. Communication should be given the priority in dealing with the evil acts.
The family forms the background in growth and development of a child. Parents should be very close to their children and pay attention to whatever they say. When a child shows a negative attitude towards following specific routes or going to specific places, the parents should very understand (Meinck et al. 95). He or she should venture into a deep investigation to determine the reason behind the negative attitude of the child. Many parents have been so stern that children cannot openly speak up their minds. Parents should be ready to sit down with their children to teach them some dangerous paths that may cost their lives.
Many parents have always been married to their jobs to the extent of forgetting about their parental. Parents should set some good time to chart with the children. The children would be very open to speaking out about any stranger or relative who entices them with gifts (Meinck et al. 98). Parents must educate their kids to say NO to any actions involving touch from their friends, relatives or people they meet in their ways. Children will find it easier to report or scream in case someone discomfort on their paths. Parents must be very sensitive to changes that might occur in the behaviors of their kids (Meinck et al. 99). This would help them to investigate any unique traits, for instance, when a child does not walk normally. The parents should be directly involved in the activities of the children. They should supervise how the children use computers and provide guidelines for computer and internet use to discourage children from watching pornographic movies and pictures.
To reduce the rate of incest, the families should invite counselors to teach on the impact of sexual engagement between children and their relatives, for example, sexual intercourse between a father and her daughter. In a family, the mother and the father should resolve all their conflicting issues. They should maintain intimacy between them rather than engaging the children as the case of father and daughter. Parents should offer equal love to their children without discrimination of some children.
The schools provide another setting where children are directly engaged on frequent occasions. The school administration should ensure that they employ trained and qualified staffs who can handle children with care and protect their rights. Schools should implement policies that would be applied in cases child sexual abuse or handle any disclosure from children (Mrazek and Kempe 450). They should also develop safety programs that are appropriate for students of different age groups. This would build the self-confidence of children and enable them to handle or protect themselves in any threatening situations. The visitors who wish to see the children in school should be thoroughly screened to prevent any cases of sexual manipulation from strangers. The public schools in the US and other countries should have a close and frequent interaction with the parents to determine the efficient ways of protecting the children
The community can also play a significant role in mitigating child sexual abuse. The leaders in the communities should notify the public of the steps to follow when registering sex offender or making notifications in the similar cases. They should create awareness on the policies and impacts of assaulting humble children in the society (Schetky and Green 168). The communities might also support the efforts of local enforcement to establish programs like neighborhood crime-watch where each member of the community has the mandate to monitor the movements and activities of any child. To stop the growing assault on children, the community should be at the forefront in supporting the aggressive prosecution of the offenders who abuse children. The communities should also consider instituting free child identification programs to make sure that all parents have current photographs of their kids (Schetky and Green 168). This would help in tracing the relationship between the offender and the victim. It would also help during the search for a child in case the offender disposes of him or her elsewhere.
The proper implementation of the international law is also crucial in protecting children from sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is outlawed in all parts of the world, and severe criminal penalties such as life imprisonment are applied to the offender. As provided in articles 34 and 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), each state has the mandate to protect its citizens from all forms of sexual abuse (Schetky and Green 169). Countries should, therefore, enact and implement many strict laws that will inhibit any offender from engaging in sexual acts with children. The citizens should be encouraged to report cases of assault to the law enforcement agencies for investigation.
Child sexual abuse has continued to expand its territory in the United States and other parts of the world. The massive expansion is due to ignorance of parents and bystanders in the community on reporting cases to meet the judicial actions. Many people have continued to solve cases of assault internally that does not end up in providing justice to the victims. We can only prevent this evil act if we join hands and monitor all children within our vicinity irrespective of the differences in backgrounds or races.
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