Darkness. Child sexual abuse and molestation lead children down a path of depression, guilt and suicide if not dealt with in good time. www.businesstoday.co.ke
Darkness. Child sexual abuse and molestation lead children down a path of depression, guilt and suicide if not dealt with in good time. [Photo/BT]

Child sexual abuse is also known as child sexual molestation.

It is a secret crime involving a range of indecent sexual activities by an adult on a child. Legally, a child is anyone who is below the age of 18 and who cannot legally consent to any sexual advances. Thus, any case where such a child is involved is usually a criminal offence.

According to the National Violence Against Children Survey, it established that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.

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There are several types of molestation which children and parents should know about. These are but not limited to:

  • Defilement
  • Rape
  • Fingering
  • Making a child watch pornography
  • Exposing the genital to kids
  • Indecent touching
  • Fondling

Who Could Abuse Your child?

As it is, anybody can abuse a child.  Studies show that over 95% of sexually abused children are molested by persons known or close to them and usually within the child’s family.

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This means that abusers are mostly not strangers.

They are right in your house, family members, neighbours, uncles, aunties etc. Their friends in school, hostel, classmates, class/school teachers, madrasah teachers, cousins, uncles, nephew, niece, fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, imams, choirmasters, pastors, confidants, security guard, maids, family /school drivers, after school/home lesson teachers, mummy’s friend, daddy’s friend, caregivers, strangers… the list can go on.

The causes of child sexual abuse are usually parental negligence, carelessness and a nonchalant attitude towards serious issues regarding the child.

What makes it worse is that no one can be trusted hence the need for vigilance and creating spaces where children can express themselves freely.

There are cases of girls bearing children sired by their fathers.

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In addition, absentee parents, parents who do not observe, uninformed children and overexposed children are risks that make children vulnerable to abuse.

While the home should be a safe haven for children, this is unfortunately where many children get abused. It can be done anywhere in the home right under your nose, at school, hostels, parties and deserted/abandoned places.

Abusers will always look for opportunities with the slightest opportunity for them enough to cause lifelong damage.

How Do Paedophiles Get Victims?

This is easily done when they groom their targets. Here, the abuser befriends and establishes an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.

By so doing, they gain the trust of a minor with the intention of having sexual relationship with them.

Abusers will also use baits which could be emotional, gifts, finances, and familiarity and respect bait.

While the list is not exhaustive, here is how to identify a possible abuser.

  1. They always try to be around your child or vice versa
  2. The child feels uncomfortable when he/she sights the abuser or when the abuser is around.
  3. They easily and conveniently accept to care for your child while you are away.
  4. They can be hard on the child especially if the child is rejecting his moves

If any of the above is observed, please keep your eyes open and observe how the child behaves around the person. Sometimes your child might feel uncomfortable and reject going to the person when you send him or her or even going for holidays.

Since sexual abuse happens even among siblings, set rules and separate their rooms and where not possible, separate their beds.

For parents, always ensure that adult activities are in the confines of a secure environment where your children will not be exposed to them making them feel the need to do what they see. Since children are good at copying what parents do, ensure that nothing you do is public if it is meant to happen in private.

If a child has been abused and they need to expose the crime, they will receive threats from the perpetrators including threats to kill, or that they will die if they expose it, that the parents will hate, beat and blame the child or that the parents will die if they know.

Some perpetrators will also force the children to make covenants so that they can never break the confidentiality. However, as a parent, forearm your child by teaching the SRR which is:

  • S – Shout/scream
  • R – Run
  • R – Report

You can tell if a child has been abused if they change suddenly and start isolating themselves where they become loners, aggressive, anxious and fearful, they experience difficulties in walking, while their performance suddenly drops and they become poor at social interaction. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) could also be a pointer to your child being abused.

As a parent, ensure that they are decently dressed covering up sensitive body parts. Also, teach them privacy by making them knock and seek permission before they enter your room or any other for that matter.

When the children are growing up, entrench the need for separately bathing them irrespective of gender.

Be keen to hear your child.

Children will never lie about abuse. If your child tells you someone is trying to mess with them, please believe the child and respond appropriately.

Where they have already been defiled, the child may become a serial abuser, depressed and suicidal.

They could also feel stigmatised, guilty and carry lifelong psychological trauma if they do not get help.

The Boy Child

More often than not we pay more attention to the girls than the boys. Boys are mostly victims of anal sex but because we do not pay attention, we miss the tell-tale signs of the abuse they may be going through.

Since they have to ‘be men and man up’ in all situations, for them, healing is a terrible process.

Watch over your boys to ensure that nothing is happening and they feel helpless. Parents should strike a balance between love and discipline.

Give your children sex education proportional to their age.

A 2-year-old child or even younger can learn from age-appropriate sex education. Start by telling them what nobody must do to their body. Encourage them to speak out and to always respect each other’s privacy everywhere.

©NurseOtieno

#OasisOfHopeInitiative

About the Author

editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke

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