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I. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Sexual abuse of children is a harsh fact of life in our society. Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescents uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse includes asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activates, regardless of the outcome, indecent exposure to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desire or to intimidate or groom the child, physically sexual contact with child or using a child to produce child pornography.
A child abuse victim can result in both short – term and long-term harm physically and emotionally. What would you do if you knew a child who became a victim? That’s a question everyone should be ready to answer if they want to protect our future generations.
There is no universal definition for CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM(S). However, a major characteristic of any abuse is the dominant position of an adult that allows him or her to force or coerce a child into sexual activity.
Child sexual abuse may include fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse. (“American psychological association,” 2011) Other forms of abuse can also occur that are not as easy to detect. These include showing adults’ genitals to a child, showing the child pornographic or “dirty” pictures or videotapes, or using the child as a model to make pornographic materials. (“Child advocacy resources”)
A victim of child abuse suffers from PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS that have an immediate emotion.
These effects of abuse cause isolation, fear and an inability to trust. This can translate into lifelong consequences, including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties. Researchers have identified links between child abuse and poor mental and emotional health, Cognitive difficulties, and Social difficulties. In one long-term study, 80 percent of young adults who were abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21. Some problems include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. Other psychological and emotional effects include panic attacks, attention-deficit/ hyperactive disorder, depression, anger, and posttraumatic stress. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008)
PHYSICAL EFFECTS are defined, as immediate physical abuse can be relatively minor, such as bruises or cuts. It can also be very severe such as broken bones, hemorrhage, or even death. Physical effects in some cases can be temporary, however the pain and suffering they cause a child should not be discounted. Several studies have shown adults who experience abuse or neglect during childhood is more likely to suffer from physical ailments such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, and high blood pressure. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008)
In over 90 percent of child sexual abuses causes, the offender is known and trusted by the victim. “Grooming” is the process used by the offend ender to recruiter and prepare a child for sexual victimization. It starts when the offender targets a specific child. While all children are at risk for victimization, certain factors make some children more vulnerable to sexual abuse than others. For example, a child is especially susceptible if he or she feels unloved, has low self-esteem, has little contact with committed adults or regularly spends time unsupervised. Sex offenders commonalty engage children by spending time with them, playing games with them, and showing them special attention or giving them gifts. Older children or teens may be offered drugs or alcohol. Offenders forge an emotional bond through frequent contact, positive interaction and by conveying the child or teen that they “understand” or can appreciate their interests and concerns.
In time the emotional bond leads to non-sexual physical contact which can take the form of physical play such as wrestling, affection, touching etc. In this way the offender tests the child’s boundaries, gradually turning into sexual touch. Usually if the child is older the child starts to become uncomfortable or fearful of the sexual activity. Offenders typically threat the child to keep them from speaking up. Most child victims are caught in a web of fear, guilt and confusion as a result of the sex offender’s grooming and manipulation. Sadly, many child victims remain silent about their abuse. (Bisquera)
2. INDICATORS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Indicators of child sexual abuse are varied and should always be considered in the context of what else is happening in a child’s life. Any one indicator, on its own, is a sign that something may be impacting a child’s well being. Some behavior indicators can be unexplained change in a child’s comfort level (either attachment or fear) around any person in a position of trust. They could show abrupt changes in performance in school or home. A significant difference in the way the child socializes. For younger children, a sudden loss of skills could be a red flag. A child who was toilet trained could start wetting the bed.
Abuse can an also include sexual behavior, often in front of others, such as self-exposure, masturbation, touching others peoples private parts, sexual language. In older children or teens this might be seen as promiscuous behavior. Physical indicators such as bruises, scratches, irritation/ itching around genitals that are not consistent with explanations of how they happened. A victim who is not sexually active could show signs of sexual transmitted diseases, such as crabs, herpes, and gonorrhea. They could also experience tenderness or soreness around areas of penetration. Finding blood in their stool or urine should also cause some concern when it is not explained by other conditions. Underwear is often where proof of abuse may exist. (Bisquera)
C. EXPERT STATEMENTS
1. FREQUENCY OF OCCURRENCE
Overall cases of child sexual abuse fell more than 60 percent from 1992 to 2010, according to David Finkelhor, a leading expert on sexual abuse. The evidence for this decline comes from a variety of indicators. It includes national surveys of child abuse and crime victimization. The crime statistics are compiled by the F.B.I analysis of data from the National Data Archive On Child Abuse and Neglect and annual surveys of school students in Minnesota. All of the data pointed in the same direction. From 1990 to 2010 cases of sexual abuse dropped from 23 per 10,000 children to 8.6 per 10,000 children. All of the subjects were under the age of 18. Researches found a 62 percent decrease. There was a 3 percent drop from 2009 to 2010. The Minnesota Student Survey also reported a 29 percent decline in reports of sexual abuse by an adult who was not a family member from1992 to 2010. They also saw a 28 percent drop in reports of sexual abuse by a family member. At the same time, the willingness of children to report sexual abuses has increased. They found that in 50 percent of sexual abuse cases, the child’s victimization had been reported to an authority, compared with 25 percent in 1992. (Goode, 2012)
2. COMMON MOTIVES OF OFFENDERS
Studies on who commits child sexual abuse vary in their findings, but the most common finding is that the majority of sexual offenders are family members or is otherwise known to the child. Sexual abuse by strangers is not nearly as common as sexual abuse by a family member. Reasearch further shows that men perpetrate most instances of sexual abuse, but there are cases that women are the offenders. Despite a common myth, Homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men. (“American psychological association,” 2011) About 73% of child sexual abusers report experiencing sexual abuse in their own childhood. Not all pedophiles are child molesters.
Pedophilia is a clinical term that describes a person who has had repeated arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors related to sexual activities with children for at least six months. Pedophiles do not necessarily have to act on their urges. Sexual offenders have the same attraction to children, but they act on their urges. Sexual offenders come from all backgrounds and social classes. They do their best to become friends with parents, and then they work to gain the child’s trust. (“”64 facts of…” 2012)
II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE A. HISTORY
1. THE RISE OF PUBLIC CONCERN
Public concern about child abuse has steadily increased. The number of referrals to child protection services in recent years has risen every year since the 1960s. It is not clear if the increase of reporting is due to a higher incident of abuse or a widening of the definition of abuse. (Eileen, 2008) Sexual abuse of children was not taken seriously until 1964 when congress passed the Child Abuse and Prevent and Treatment Act. This established reporting requirements of suspected cases. Among some experts there was a tendency to deny that sexual abuse had lasting consequences. Researchers have now found that there are long-term emotional problems that surface. (Mintz,2012) A contributing factor to the growing public concern is also widely publicized deaths. Although the field of child protection services date back to the nineteenth century, public concern has rarely reached the present level of intensity. (Polsky, 1991)
2. CIVIL LAWSUITS
Child abuse statues have been enacted in most states to provide civil immunity for those making good faith reports of suspected child abuse. Most states also provide immunity from criminal liability. Physicians, nurses and social workers are required to report suspected child abuse that comes before them in some states failure to report a case carries criminal penalties as well as civil liability.
B. KEY ISSUES
1. WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE?
There are short term and long-term impacts of sexual child abuse. Depression, anxiety, amnesia, disengagement and numbing are just a few have the psychological and emotional responses victims’ experience. As children become adults they can suffer intimacy disturbance, making it hard for them to physically and emotionally have a healthy relationship. Suicidal thoughts and co-dependence are also long-term impacts of sexual abuse.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK A CHILD YOU KNOW HAS BEEN THE VICTIM OF CHILD ABUSE
Speak up but choose the time and place carefully. Do not ask the child about his or her abuse in front of the person you think may be abusing the child. Ask them questions. Find out if anyone has been making them feel uncomfortable. They many not know they are being abused themselves or know its wrong. Follow up on whatever made you concerned. Ask in a non-judgmental way – using the word “I” rather than “you” so they don’t feel shamed. Building a trusting relationship with the child is also important. They should know how to say “no” and when something does make them feel uncomfortable, they should tell a trusted adult. Most importantly, children should know that some parts of their body are private. (RAINN, 2009)
PROVING SEXUAL ABUSE
Many child abuse cases must be proved using circumstantial evidence because direct evidence is not available. In many instances, the child is unable to tell what happened, and the offender does not ordinarily disclose the truth. Inferences are therefore very important in providing child abuse. Some sexual abuse requires proof of forcible compulsion. When the victim is a child, the child abuses often submits to the advances of adults who have parental or similar authorities over the child. (Tomas J., 2010)
C. MOST RECENT RESEARCH 1. UNDERREPORTED AND LIGHTLY PROSECUTED
Child abuse is greatly underreported and under estimated mostly because of the lack of an agreed- upon definition of abuse. Underreporting is related to several factors. Children over the age of 5 often care for or know their abuser. Therefore, they find themselves trapped between the need for affection and a sense that something is wrong. Cases of sexual child abuse are often lightly prosecuted because of minimal communication between the prosecutors office and child protected services.
2. POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS
Some children overcome the physical and physiological effects of child abuse. Those with strong social support can adapt and cope with bad experiences. For many others, however, child abuse has lifelong consequences, For example, child abuse may result in physical, behavioral, emotion and mental issues. Some physical issues include disabilities and health problems. Abuse of others or frequent, causal sex with many different partners (sexual promiscuity) or teen pregnancy is an example of behavioral issues. Emotional issues can include low self-esteem, difficulty establishing or maintaining relationship, challenges with intimacy and trust. (Mayo Clinic, 2010)
D. INFORMATION FOR THE EXPERTS
1. RESEARCH REGARDING PREVENTION STRATEGIES FROM EXPERTS
Experts suggest correcting the imbalance between adult and children by empowering children. First off information is power. Children who know their own bodies are more likely to choose when, how, and by whom they are touched. Self esteem building and experts also suggest self-defense skills. Lastly children need resources. They should have a network of trusted adults they can turn to. (Torbin,2002)
2. PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE
The first step in protecting children from sexual abuse is recognizing telltale symptoms. Changes in attitude and rebellion at school could point to an underling problem. It is important to educated children about their body parts by understanding what is private. Adults need to be aware of their child’s surrounding at school or in a childcare setting. Parents should educate themselves on ‘red flags’ to protect their child from sexual abuse.
III. SUMMARY A. DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS 1. ABOUT RESEARCH
Despite our prevention effort, much more must be done to decrease the incidents of child abuse and neglect. Our efforts should be directed to changes in the helping system, changes in society, and additional research. One of the hopes for the future lies in research, not only to further define and understand abuse but also to evaluate existing programs. Only though out commitment to change and our willingness to research what will create a better future will we combat the growing problem of sexual child abuse.
2. ABOUT PROGRAMS
With child protection agencies are responsible for direct intervention form investigation and case management. These agencies can be hampered if there is not communicatory and public support for their work, which includes offering programs to help prevent child sexual abuse. There needs to be more extensive community awareness and education to reduce harm.
B. SOCIETY’S CONCERN WITH CRIME
Society is helping the system make changes in order to reduce the rate of child abuse. Research is needed to further define and understand abuse. Evaluation is also needed for the existing programs. Commitment to change and willingness to research will create a better future to combat the growing problem of sexual child abuse.
A. THE PROBLEM REVISITED WITH OPINIONS
Child abuse is always been a problem, and in recent year it has made its way to the spotlight. Many people are willing to talk about them being a victim as a child. The more people feel comfortable talking about child sexual abuse. The less it will become a crime. Children become victims because of their vulnerability of trusting adults and unaware of the wrong. If you think a child you know has been a victim of child sexual abuse thing you can do is to give the child a safe environment in which to talk to you or another trusted adult.
Encourage the child to talk about what he or she has experienced, but be careful not to suggest events to him or her that may not of happened. Reassure the child that they did not do anything wrong. Seek mental assistance for the child. Being aware that many states laws require that persons who know or have a reason to suspect that a child has been sexual abuses must report that abuse to either a local law informant officials or child protection officials. Our future generation needs to feel protected from being a victim of child sexual abuse.
B. SUGGESTION OF POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS.
The best way to prevent child abuse is educate parents about child abuse. Most parents feel that this could never happen to them. When it happens the parents are in shock, but when they learn some warning signs, they are able to point them out. There are many free programs that can teach parents how to educate their children on protecting themselves from child abuse. The reality is when there are budget cuts; these programs that protect our future generations are the first to get cut.
Having Policy’s in school districts and childcare environments can be the solution to protecting children. One suggestion would be to have restrictions on when and where is acceptable for a child to alone with adult. This policy does not only protect the child, but it protects the adult from false accusations.
Laws against child sexual abuse can very by country. Based on the local definition of who is a child and what constitutes sexual abuse. As the age of the consent to sexual behaviors varies from country to country, so do definitions of child sexual abuse. An adult’s sexual intercourse with a minor below the legal age of consent may sometimes be referred to statutory rape based on the principle that any apparent consent by a minor could not be considered legal consent.
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