SHATTERING THE SILENCE – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE, DO YOU KNOW ENOUGH TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN? – 03.12.2014
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – DO YOU KNOW ENOUGH TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN?
Child sexual abuse is not a new emerging problem. It has been around for centuries. Child sexual abuse has the capability of damaging a child physically, emotionally, & behaviorally for the rest of their childhood & the effects can be carried on to their adult life. Interfamilial sexual abuse is described as sexual abuse that includes any type of sexual contact between relatives. Extrafamilial is sexual abuse that includes sexual contact with perpetrators that may know the child because they are neighbors, family friends, priest, or anyone that has access to the child on a one on one basis that doesn’t require for their to be adult supervision by the parent.
The problem with most child sexual abuse cases is that they are often not reported. Generally there are three rules silence. The rules are as follows: You will not tell, you will not feel, you will not be aware. Abusers will manipulate their victims to insure that they will not be caught. It can include tactics from bribery to threats. You will not feel is a way for them to confuse their victim for understanding how they feel about what has been going on between themselves & their abuser. You will not be aware is perhaps the most damaging emotionally. They will use threats & emotional head games to trick their victim into not fully understanding what is being done to them. It’s this rule of silence that cause the victims the most problems when it resurfaces in their adult years. Abusers spend a great amount of time grooming their victims to try to reduce the risk of them being found out. Their selection of their victim is not by random choosing. Abusers seek out a child who is vulnerable & easily accessible. Abusers begin touching the potential victim in appropriate ways such as horseplay, & then gradually begin to confuse & shift the boundaries of physical space until the child is unaware of what’s really going on. Sexual abusers are planners & thinkers. They are constantly running the situation through their minds, increasing the chance that they get away with the sexual abuse. Because most children can’t or don’t tell about being sexually abused it is our responsibility to be able to recognize the signs of abuse.
Unfortunately there isn’t just 1 sign that specifically says this child is being sexually abused. Some signs include; fear of certain people or places, unable to sleep without disturbances, problems in school, behavioral problems. Other signs occurring in children who are abused more frequently are the child mimicking an adult sexual behavior, when interacting with other children they can act out sexual play. They could also act out this sexual behavior with pets, toys, or even themselves. It should be a cause for concern when a child displays sexual knowledge through language or actions that is past the realm of what is deemed “normal” for their age. Symptoms of unexplained pain, bleeding, swelling, or irritation n their mouth, genital areas are another cause for concern. Though no parent wants to think that their child has been the victim of such a horrible crime, it is essential to their physical, mental, & emotional well being that you don’t act as if this could never happen to your child or the one abusing could never do that to your child. There are several laws that have been passed to protect a child who has been victimized. The one that we are most familiar with is Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law was named after a little girl in New Jersey. She went across the street to look at a puppy and never came home. She was raped and murdered by a man who had been convicted twice for sex offenses. Her family were never told of her killers past. Because of what happened to Meghan this law was 1st passed in New Jersey, and it has also been passed by numerous other states. This law is to protect the neighborhood children by warning parents and other community members prior to child molesters release, thereby allowing them to prepare their children with good protective skills.
One of the hardest parts of abuse is the loss of innocence. When children become victims or witnesses of violence or sexual abuse they are put into an adult system that traditionally does not differentiate between children and adults. Child victims of crime are specially handicapped. First the criminal justice system distrusts them and puts special barriers in the path of prosecuting their claims to justice. Second, the criminal justice system seems indifferent to the factual special needs that arise from their participation.The children are no longer being blamed by society thankfully. That is one step in the right direction towards helping & seeking justice for these victims. It is more prevalent now than ever for society to try to understand the complex factors that cause it and the importance of educating people of all ages about it. The silence surrounding this issue is being broken, and people are beginning to see that the prevention of sexual abuse is everyone’s responsibility.
Please join me next Wednesday as we take a better look at the physical abuse children face. Together, we can make a difference, we can be a child’s hero.
For more information on Megan’s Law and sexual abuse statistics, please check out the LTWH article “Child Abuse – What You Need To Know”.