Child Sexual Abuse
What Is Child Sexual Abuse
A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact and it can happen online.
Very young or disabled children child might not understand that what is happening to them is abuse or that what is happening is wrong.
Any child can be affected by sexual abuse, but they may be more at risk if they have a history of previous sexual abuse, a disability, a disrupted home life or if they have experienced other forms of abuse.
Sexual abuse of children includes:
sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, including using an object
all penetrative sex, including penetration of the mouth with an object or part of the body
encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including sexual acts with someone else, or making a child strip or masturbate
intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child or not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activity by others
meeting a child following sexual grooming, or preparation, with the intention of abusing them
taking, making, permitting to take, distributing, showing or advertising indecent images of children
paying for the sexual services of a child or encouraging them into prostitution or pornography
showing a child images of sexual activity including photographs, videos or via webcams.
On Line Child Sexual Abuse
When sexual exploitation happens online, young people may be persuaded, or forced, to:
send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone
have sexual conversations by text or online.
Abusers may threaten to send images, video or copies of conversations to the young person's friends and family unless they take part in other sexual activity.
The Sexual Abuser
Child abuse is committed by women, men, teenagers and other children. There isn't one 'type' of person.
Abusers come from all parts of society, and all backgrounds. They usually seem quite normal to other people. In many cases friends, relatives and co-workers find it hard to believe that someone they know has abused a child.
A large amount of child sexually abuse is committed by someone known to the child or his/her parents. It can be a relative, a peer, a family friend, a neighbour or a person in a position of trust.
Strangers also abuse children.
Because so much abuse goes undisclosed and unreported, the majority of perpetrators in our communities aren't known to the authorities.
There are three types of sexual predators - pedophiles, preferential child sexual abusers and situational child sexual abusers
Pedophiles have a sexual preference for children. This in itself does not make them criminals. They get into trouble when they act on their impulses and, for example, start paying for viewing or collecting child pornography which is a serious victim-exploiting crime.
If pedophiles act on their impulses they become the second type of predator - preferential child sexual abusers. They have no interest in having sex with adults, only children, usually pre-pubescent. These are generally male and have a distinct pattern to their predatory behaviour, including recruiting victims – referred to as ‘grooming’ – and retaining them in an ongoing pattern of sexual abuse while ensuring that they do not disclose the abuse - see 'The Secret' below and on how homepage here. These first two kinds of predators are called preferential; meaning that they have a distinct sexual preference for children.
The situational sexual abuser. is one of opportunity. He or she enjoys having sex with adults and have sex with children when the opportunity arises. For example, when they are left alone with a child, they are drunk, they are angry at the child or mother and assault the child to hurt the mother – there’s a long list of reasons. They key word is opportunity.
All three are extremely dangerous to children all the time. What is a distinctive feature in their behavior is their lack of conscience.
Child Sexual Exploitation
This is when children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online.
Some children and young people are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation can also happen in gangs.
Signs To Look For That Shows A Child Is Being Sexually Abused
Children who are sexually abused may:
Stay away from certain people
Avoid being alone with people, such as family members or friends
Seem frightened of a person or reluctant to socialise with them.
You may notice that the child suddenly behaves differently, is anxious or depressed, and he or she might have problems sleeping and eating. The child might start to wet the bed, take unusual risks and may be clingy. Older children might start to use drugs and alcohol and self harm.
Show sexual behaviour that's inappropriate for their age - the child might become sexually active at a young age or even promiscuous and they could use sexual language or know information that you wouldn't expect them to.
Have physical symptoms
anal or vaginal soreness
an unusual discharge
sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Child Sexual Abuse Is Preventable.
The first thing we must do is to make sure that the places where we allow our children to go are safe and that the care takers have good references and can be trusted.
This includes clubs, associations, schools, churches - Every where!
We should speak to the adults caring for our children about sexual abuse and be sure that they are aware to be on the look out for the signs of such and that they know how to take the appropriate action.
Go to cyber bullying and see how to keep children safe on line.
Keep the conversation on child sexual abuse alive!
Help Children Understand Sexual Before It Happens
Talk to children about sexual abuse and let them know that it is never okay, and most important - that it is never their fault.
Help children speak out on child Sexual Abuse - report sexual abuse to the police and let your child see a doctor and or psychologist .........As soon as possible.
The Effects Of Sexual Abuse On Children
Sexual abuse can ruin childhood, and the impact can last a lifetime. Although we should remember that every child and situation is different.
The consequences of child sexual abuse can include depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress and an impaired ability to cope with stress or emotions. It can have a fundamental effect on brain functioning, where a child's brain becomes damaged by the abuse and it can also cause dissociation, memory impairment and reduced social functioning.
Self-blame, self-harm and suicide are commonly mentioned as consequences of sexual abuse.
Where the abuse was not discovered, it can lead to confused ideas about relationships and sexual behaviour.
It can also have physical consequences for children, from sexually transmitted diseases to pregnancy.
Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse and neglect include:
emotional difficulties such as anger, anxiety, sadness or low self-esteem
mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self harm, suicidal thoughts
problems with drugs or alcohol
disturbing thoughts, emotions and memories that cause distress or confusion
poor physical health such as obesity, aches and pains
struggling with parenting or relationships
worrying that their abuser is still a threat to themselves or others
learning difficulties, lower educational attainment, difficulties in communicating
behavioural problems including anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour.