Is your child acting differently? What is it that he is not telling you? Has his behavior changed lately? Or, maybe he tried telling you something and you simply ignored it. These signs, no matter how trivial, might lead to something grievous.
Child sexual abuse is a much common occurrence that torments 109 children every day in India. The sinful crime is not limited to any one country. It is a plague that has engulfed the entire world. Child sexual abuse can be defined as sexual contact with a child that occurs under one of three conditions:
According to the WHO, “Child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society.”
The act of child sexual abuse or CSA, as it is commonly called, can be perpetrated by any type of offender, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, age difference, or religion. The culprit may be an intra-familial or a non-family taker, friend, or a foe. It can be someone who has been victimised in the past. Children are also abused sexually in marketplace and used for child pornography. This misdeed is a widespread public health problem that holds potential to severely undermine a healthy psychological and physical development of children and adolescents.
According to NSPCC-UK (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children- United Kingdom), abuse can either be contact or non-contact. As the names suggest, contact abuse is where an abuser makes physical contact with the child, while non-contact refers to exploiting the child without touching. This may include exposing the child to sexual acts or materials, or directing, distributing or viewing child abuse images and videos. The list of ways in which a child can be abused goes to the end of the rainbow. From forcing a child, to masturbating or compelling them to take part in sexual conversations online, all these acts come under child sexual abuse.
As a guardian, we wish to protect our child from this social evil as much as possible. We fear it so much, that we are afraid of even talking about it with our children. However, we forget that children show evidence of abuse through their actions or words. How can we identify these signals?
Knowing the signs of abuse and defeating them in the early phase itself can help safeguard the innocence of children. A child can only dare when they’re aware. If they lack the awareness of CSA, they might not realise the seriousness of this subject, and often regard mistreatment or abuse as normal or customary. After the passing of the grooming phase, the child might become habitual of abuse and become subject to Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.
The signs are:
When in discomfort, children turn to their parents for comfort. It then becomes the responsibility of the person to whom abuse has been reported to not shun the child, but take the following steps to console them:
No scar is bigger than the scar on your soul. Let these gifts of god know that someone is listening to them, because the effect of abuse is a lot for a child to bear. The effect can be psychological, physical, and social. Abuse not only affects a child’s present, but also demolishes their future, if not taken care of in the right manner. The impact of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. The victims may endure from:
Children of all age groups or gender are at risk of getting sexually abused. Even disability does not prevent the unscrupulous victimiser to carry out this heinous crime. Children are unaware that what is happening to them is a crime, which makes us responsible as a youth to educate them.
It’s children who make our life cheerful. We always smile when we see a child smile at us. So, why should we let that smile go away? Let’s bring that smile back and make sure that it never fades away. Even a small part we play will lead to a bigger goal of a society free of child sexual abuse.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at email@example.com. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.