If you are not exactly sure what sexual abuse is, you’re not alone. When a perpetrator intentionally harms a minor physically, psychologically, sexually, or by any acts of neglect, the crime is known as child abuse.

The survey, carried out across 13 states of our country and with a sample size of 12,447, revealed that 53.22% of children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.

Now if you ask what causes someone into such retarded acts, the answer is simple.

There is no “usual” pathway to someone sexually abusing a child. Each person who sexually abuses a child is motivated by issues unique to that individual. You cannot pick out a sex offender in a crowd. People who may sexually abuse children can be fathers, mothers, step-parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts or cousins. They can be neighbours, babysitters, religious leaders, teachers, and coaches. They come from all classes, racial and religious backgrounds and may be homosexual or heterosexual. Most offenders who sexually abuse children are termed as paedophiles.

CACTUS FOUNDATION’s Nusrat Khan with the Kids
Photograph by Rameshwar I

The studies show that most offenders, or around 90%, are male. The peak age of vulnerability for sexual abuse is between seven and 13, but about 20% of cases involve even younger children. Adolescent children are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault at the hands of peers.

We are living in a world where every day we are encapsulating our self from rest of the world. From joint to nuclear which rather becoming more a kind of atomic, we are going more isolated day by day. Talking about of the term “family” is now only means living under same roof with rare or occasion emotional connect. If not the only one this is one of the major reason of increasing child abuse in our society particularly in the upper class.

“The studies show that most offenders, or around 90%, are male. The peak age of vulnerability for sexual abuse is between seven and 13, but about 20% of cases involve even younger children.”

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice. Warning signs are not always physical, sometimes a drastic or gradual change in child behaviour.

Another somewhat common set of behaviours in sexually abused children is what are increasingly called “post-traumatic” symptoms. These include high levels of fearfulness and anxiety, nightmares, and phobias, particularly about certain places or certain people.

Our Volunteer Navya Kakani
Photograph by Rameshwar I
Effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating and varies from child to child. Victims may feel significant distress and display a wide range of psychological symptoms, both short- and long-term. They may feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. For many, the damage is enormous, with the impact still being felt into adulthood, affecting all aspects of their life.

The most important thing that psychologists, therapists and educators can do is to improve their ability to identify sexual abuse. But because of the shame, fear, and secrecy, most of the times sexual abuse is still not diagnosed.

Most often child sexual abuse is a gradual process and not a single event. By learning the early warning signs and how to effectively step in and speak up, sexual abuse can be stopped before it starts and a child is harmed. Adults must take the primary responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse by addressing any concerning or questionable behavior which may pose a risk to a child’s safety.

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