Child sexual assault is when an adult or someone who is older and bigger than a child involves a child in sexual activity that is not of their choosing. This may happen because of the power held over the child or by taking advantage of a child’s trust and vulnerability.
What You Need To Know About Sexual Abuse:
- Sexual assault of children is a crime.
- Sexual assault is never the fault of the child.
- Sexual assault is planned and purposely carried out by an offender. They are not actions that are accidental or misread by a child.
- Most incidents of sexual assault are committed by someone a child knows. Children are more likely to be assaulted by relatives, friends, neighbours, or caretakers than strangers lurking in playgrounds or parks.
Child Sexual Assault Can Include:
- Sexual touching or fondling by another person that causes a child fear, confusion or distress.
- Exposing a child to a person’s genitals or forcing a child to touch those private parts.
- Forcing a child to pose, undress or perform sexual acts on film or in person.
- Making threats or using trickery or blackmail to a child to force them to engage in sexual activity.
- Making offensive or insulting remarks of a sexual nature.
- Making a child look at detailed pictures of sex acts, as in magazines, photographs and films.
- Making graphic comments about a child’s sexual behaviour or body or being called names that are sexually explicit.
Who Are The Offenders?
- Approximately 85% of offenders are known to the child. Most offenders are relatives or close friends of the child whom the child trusts.
- Research indicates that as many as 94% of offenders of child sexual assault are male. However sexual assault by a female does also occur.
- Offenders are usually normal members of the community, most commonly heterosexual men. They come from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
- Usually sexual abuse happens in the child’s own home or in a place familiar to the child where that child feels comfortable and safe.
- It can happen at any time that the child is accessible to the offender even if other adults are nearby.
How Does Sexual Assault Happen?
- In reflecting on the power and knowledge an adult or older person has over a child, the reason why sexual assault happens is horrifyingly simple. A relationship is knowingly and purposely manipulated and exploited against the vulnerability of a trusting and unknowing child.
- Sexual abuse happens because that adult decides that person devises ways to trap a child into abuse and secrecy.
- Children are tricked, bribed or threatened physically and emotionally into the sexual assault by the actions of the person intent on abusing them. It is not usual for a child to be sexually assaulted until the groundwork of how to trap the child into the abuse has occurred.
- “Grooming” describes the different ways offenders trap children into the abuse, usually by building the child’s trust and making the child believe they would never hurt them. This usually happens long before the sexual behaviour starts.
- Such tactics may include:
– Making the child feel special
– Give them special attention
– Say they are special friends
– Share secrets with them
– Give them special gifts or money.
– Play games and then the games change and the child, now confused, doesn’t know what to do.
– Tell the child that if they say something then they or the child will be in trouble.
What has been shown by studies is that this process stems from the offender identifying signs of vulnerability in a child and using his power to exploit those signs and trap children in the abuse.
Behaviours That May Raise Concern:
- Pays an unusual amount of attention to your child.
- Seeks out opportunities to spend uninterrupted time alone with your child.
- Frequently buys expensive gifts for your child or gives them money.
- Often walks into the bathroom while your child is there.
- Shows unusual interest in the sexuality of your child. For example makes comments about your child’s body.
- Pursues physical contact with your child through hugging, touching, tickling, wrestling, even when your child has indicated that they don’t like it.
- Spends most of his free time with children rather than with persons his age.
- Asks to take your child on overnight trips alone.
- Frequently offers to care for your child
- Asks that your child keep secrets.
How Do Children Tell?
The most important part of child sexual assault is keeping the victim silent and maintaining the secret of what is happening. Studies have shown that factors such as the age of the child, the offender’s relationship to the child, the child’s fear of being hurt or being blamed should they tell, all determine the time children take to disclose.
It is most important to know that children rarely lie about sexual assault or are mistaken in what they believe happened.
When Children Tell…
- Believe them
- Stress that whatever has happened is not their fault.
- Tell them that you know how hard it is to tell but they have done what is right.
- Say you know that some adult do such thing.
- Do everything you can to comfort and reassure the child