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WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE?

What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child Sexual Abuse is the use of a child for sexual gratification by an older or more powerful person. The offender is usually an adult, but could also be a more powerful child. Both girls and boys are vulnerable. Besides being a public health concern, it is a crime punishable by law.

Types of Child Sexual Abuse
Child Sexual Abuse includes the following Touching and Non-Touching Behaviors (but need not be limited only to these acts)

Touching behaviors include
-Fondling a child's body for sexual pleasure
-Kissing a child with sexual undertones/inclinations.
-Rubbing genitals against a child's body.
-Sexually touching a child's body, and specifically private parts (breasts and genitals). Includes encouraging or forcing a child to do likewise.
-Making a child touch someone else's genitals, or playing sexual ("pants-down") games.
-Encouraging or forcing a child to masturbate, with the child as either a participant or observer.
-Encouraging or forcing a child to perform oral sex (mouth-to-genital contact on or by the child)
-Inserting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or penis) inside the vagina, mouth, or anus of a child; includes attempts of these acts.


Non-touching behaviors include
-Encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts either in person or lowering the bars of privacy
-Looking at a child sexually
-Exposing one's private body parts to a child (exhibitionism)
-Watching a child in a state of nudity, such as while undressing, using the bathroom, with or without the child's knowledge (voyeurism)
-An adult making suggestive comments to the child that are sexual in nature. Commenting on the sexual development of a child
-Encouraging or forcing a child to read/watch pornography, giving pornographic material or using the child in pornography


MYTH VS FACT

Myth: Children are rarely abused in India, as the Indian socio-cultural system inherently does not allow for its children to be sexually abused.
Fact: Statistical data from available research and reported incidents (from children and adult survivors) clearly indicates that child sexual abuse is a widespread problem affecting an extremely large number of children in the country.

Myth: Child sexual abuse occurs mostly in poor, illiterate families.
Fact: Child sexual abuse occurs in all social and economic classes of society.

Myth: Sexual abuse generally occurs in surroundings unfamiliar to the child.
Fact: Most children are sexually abused inside their own homes. In a predominant number of cases, abusers have the trust of children and their families and access to their homes.

Myth: Only girls are the victims of child sexual abuse.
Fact: Both girls and boys are victims.

Myth: Children with disability (differently able children) cannot be sexually abused as the abusers either find them sexually unattractive, or feel sorry for them.
Fact: All children are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Research has proven that differently able children are in fact more likely to be abused because of their increased vulnerabilities.

Myth: Children lie and make up stories about sexual abuse.
Fact: Children do not lie or weave stories about being sexually abused. The pressure to remain silent to uphold distorted concepts of honor and respect is immense. Also, children in our society are kept ignorant of sex and the possibility of abuse. Given these two facts the child is not lying when he/she relates an incident of sexual abuse.

Myth: Often precocious children provoke sexual abuse by their "seductive" behavior.
Fact: Children can never initiate sexual abuse. Terming a child's behavior "seductive" is an adult justification, projection and misinterpretation.

Myth: Children are usually abused by strangers.
Fact: The majority of abusers are known to the child and are often in positions of trust and power vis-à-vis the child. Example: Family, relatives, neighbours, teachers etc.

Myth: People who sexually abuse are mentally ill or "sick".
Fact: Abusers are seldom mentally ill; on the contrary they are "regular" people who lead "routine" lives

Myth: Women do not sexually abuse children.
Fact: Though most of abusers are men, a small number of women abuse children sexually.

Myth: Child sexual abuse is usually accompanied by physical violence.
Fact: In most reported cases the abuser is not physically violent but uses emotional manipulation to coerce the victim.

Myth: Somebody in the family usually knows the child is being sexually abused.
Fact: Usually nobody is aware that the child is being sexually abused.

Myth: A child should be encouraged to forget about the abuse, as there are no harmful effects of child sexual abuse.
Fact: Child sexual abuse usually has harmful effects and can lead to behavioral, emotional, physical and interpersonal problems.

Myth: Reporting of child sexual abuse can cause more harm than good.
Fact: If child sexual abuse is not reported then the same abuser may harm other children or may target the same child again.

Myth: Abuse is usually a single isolated incident.
Fact: There is very often a pattern to abuser's behaviour. They usually repeat their behaviour and with many children as well.

Myth: Only adolescent children get abused.
Fact: Children of any age can be abused. Reported incidents show that even infants have been sexually abused.

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Copyright © 2011 Laurie Pieters. All rights reserved