|End of the Innocence
Don Henley, Bruce Hornsby -
Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn't have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin' by
But "happily ever after" fails
And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales ...
....But I know a place where we can go
And wash away this sin
We'll sit and watch the clouds toll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind...
...Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence ...
|| End of the Innocence
… Oh how do these words ring true for so many children who have had their innocence stolen from them due to sexual abuse. A study from the US Department of Health reported that up to 250,000 children are victims of sexual abuse per year. The problem is that so many, the majority, go unreported. Sexual abuse in girls is a staggering 25% or more; 1 out of every 4 young girls is a victim. ONE OUT OF 4!! Boys "luck out" at only 10 - 15%
Who are the people that prey on the innocence and trust of a young child? I bet most of you think it is a stranger, a passerby, someone who sees the child on the way to school or at the playground and just decides to attack; WRONG!!
"Offenders are more likely to be relatives or acquaintances of their victim than strangers. A 2006–2007 study of 430 cases found that 82% of juvenile sex offenders were known to the victims (acquaintances 46% or relatives 36%; (father, brother, uncle or cousin). Strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; studies show that women commit 14% to 40% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Most offenders who sexually abuse prepubescent children are pedophiles, although some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia."
What defines sexual abuse in a child? Let's take a look....
"Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for
sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in
sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.)
to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, physical
sexual contact with a child, or using a child to produce child pornography."
"Under the law, "child sexual abuse" is an umbrella term describing criminal and civil offenses in
which an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor or exploits a minor for the purpose of sexual
gratification. The American Psychiatric Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual
activity with adults", and condemns any such action by an adult: "An adult who engages in sexual
activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal
or socially acceptable behavior."
A recent study showed that the United States ranked 2nd in the number of child sexual abuse cases
an "honor" exceeded only by Africa.
Who are those most likely to be abused? Are there life style differences, demographics, family
characteristics at play that determine who is most at risk? Take a look...
"While it is impossible to create a profile of children who will be sexually abused, it is possible to
describe characteristics that are more common among victims.
Gender. It is well known that many more girls than boys are the victims of sexual abuse. This statistic
is confirmed regardless of the information that is used. Across different types of research—all reliable
studies conclude that girls experience more sexual abuse than do boys. Studies have found that the
percent of victims who are female range from 78% to 89%.
Age. There is some discrepancy in the available data about whether teenagers are at higher risk or
whether the risk is more uniformly distributed. Some data from both agency cases and adult
retrospective reports show a relatively uniform risk for children after age 3. Other studies find that
older children are more likely to be abuse; one study found that over half of the children who were
sexually victimized were between 15-17 years old. One national study that uses information from law
enforcement agencies found that 14% of sexual assault victims are ages 0-5, 20% are ages 6-11 and
33% are ages 12-17. In the absence of complete agreement on this issue, it is probably best to say
that the risk continues across the spectrum of childhood, with teens at possibly higher risk.
Race. Several national studies have found that black and white children experienced near-equal levels
of sexual abuse. Other studies, however, have found that found that both blacks and Latinos have an
increased risk for sexual
Some studies have found more sexual assault and sexual abuse among children from lower
income backgrounds. Among cases coming to the attention of authorities, however, sexual
abuse is less related to low income than other forms of child maltreatment. Studies have also found
that sexual abuse to be associated with other family problems, for example, parental alcoholism,
parental rejection, and parental marital conflict."
Well, that was refreshing reading, sure to keep me up tonight....
So, basically, all children are targets. How sad....
What affects can childhood sexual abuse have on a child? This is quite startling to read.
"Child sexual abuse can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life. Psychological, emotional, physical, and social effects include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self-esteem, dissociative and anxiety disorders; general psychological distress and disorders such as somatization, neurosis, chronic pain, sexualized behavior, school/learning problems; and behavior problems including substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, animal cruelty, crime in adulthood and suicide. A specific characteristic pattern of symptoms has not been identified and there are several hypotheses about the causality of these associations."
"A study funded by the USA National Institute of Drug Abuse found that "Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased likelihood of drug dependence, alcohol dependence, and psychiatric disorders. The associations are expressed as odds ratios: for example, women who experienced non-genital sexual abuse in childhood were 2.83 times more likely to suffer drug dependence as adults than were women who were not abused."
"Long term negative effects on development leading to repeated or additional victimization in adulthood are also associated with child sexual abuse. Studies have established a causal relationship between childhood sexual abuse and certain specific areas of adult psychopathology, including suicidality, antisocial behavior, PTSD, anxiety and alcoholism. Adults with a history of abuse as a child, especially sexual abuse, are more likely than people with no history of abuse to become frequent users of emergency and medical care services. A study comparing middle-aged women who were abused as children with non-abused counterparts found significantly higher health care costs for the former.
Sexually abused children suffer from more psychological symptoms than children who have not been abused; studies have found symptoms in 51% to 79% of sexually abused children. The risk of harm is greater if the abuser is a relative, if the abuse involves intercourse or attempted intercourse, or if threats or force are used. The level of harm may also be affected by various factors such as penetration, duration and frequency of abuse, and use of force. The social stigma of child sexual abuse may compound the psychological harm to children, and adverse outcomes are less likely for abused children who have supportive family environments."
Dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
"Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been found to be related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms, which includes amnesia for abuse memories. The level of dissociation has been found to be related to reported overwhelming sexual and physical abuse. When severe sexual abuse (penetration, several perpetrators, lasting more than one year) had occurred, dissociative symptoms were even more prominent.
Child sexual abuse independently predicts the number of symptoms for PTSD a person displays, after controlling for possible confounding variables, according to Widom (1999), who wrote "sexual abuse, perhaps more than other forms of childhood trauma, leads to dissociative problems ... these PTSD
findings represent only part of the picture of the long-term psychiatric squeal associated with early childhood victimization ... antisocial personality disorder, alcohol abuse, and other forms of psychopathology." Children may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from child sexual abuse, even without actual or threatened injury or violence."
"Depending on the age and size of the child, and the degree of force used, child sexual abuse may cause internal lacerations and bleeding. In severe cases, damage to internal organs may occur, which, in some cases, may cause death. Herman-Giddens et al., found six certain and six probable cases of death due to child sexual abuse in North Carolina between 1985 and 1994. The victims ranged in age from 2 months to 10 years. Causes of death included trauma to the genitalia or rectum and sexual mutilation."
"Child sexual abuse may cause infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Depending on the age of the child, due to a lack of sufficient vaginal fluid, chances of infections are higher. Vaginitis has also been reported."
"Adults with a history of sexual abuse often present for treatment with a secondary mental health issue, which can include substance abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, depression, and conflict in romantic or interpersonal relationships.
Well, I guess the victim not only has to carry this horror with them the rest of their life, many are probably going to be alcoholics, drug users, have permanent physical damage, have an STD and some are destined to become criminals. What a rosy picture, don't you think?
We have talked about what defines child sexual abuse, who is at risk and what physical and emotional damage can occur because of abuse. So often in abuse cases, the work "pedophile" is used. But the person who commits child sexual abuse is not always a pedophile. Let's take a look at the following....
"The term "pedophilia" refers to persistent feelings of attraction in an adult or older adolescent toward prepubescent children, whether the attraction is acted upon or not. A person with this attraction is called a "pedophile".
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 95% of incidents of sexual abuse of children age 12 and younger are committed by offenders who meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia; and that such persons make up 65% of child molestation offenders. Pedophilic child molesters commit ten times more sexual acts against children than non-pedophilic child molesters.
In law enforcement, the term "pedophile" is generally used to describe those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse under socio-legal definitions of child (including both prepubescent children and adolescents younger than the local age of consent); however, not all child sexual offenders are pedophiles and not all pedophiles engage in sexual abuse of children. Law enforcement and legal professionals have begun to use the term predatory pedophile, a phrase coined by children's attorney Andrew Vachss, to refer specifically to pedophiles who engage in sexual activity with minors. The term emphasizes that child sexual abuse consists of conduct chosen by the perpetrator."
"Recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. Estimated rates among child sex offenders vary. One study found that 42% of offenders re-offended (either a sex crime, violent crime, or both) after they were released. Risk for re-offense was highest in the first 6 years after release, but continued to be significant even 10–31 years later, with 23% offending during this time. "
I decided to write this after watching CNN last night. They were reporting on the on-going war in Syria and how the children are suffering so terribly. Their reporters described the horrors of war, including rape and abuse.
To perpetrate a war itself, should be a crime!
What can be done to help prevent childhood sexual abuse and to help those who become victims?
Helping an abused or neglected child
"What should you do if you suspect that a child has been abused? How do you approach him or her? Or what if a child comes to you? It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and confused in this situation. Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about.
Just remember, you can make a tremendous difference in the life of an abused child, especially if you take steps to stop the abuse early. When talking with an abused child, the best thing you can provide is calm reassurance and unconditional support. Let your actions speak for you if you’re having trouble finding the words. Remember that talking about the abuse may be very difficult for the child. It’s your job to reassure the child and provide whatever help you can.
Tips for talking to an abused child
| Avoid denial and remain calm. A common reaction to news as unpleasant and shocking as child abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the child may be afraid to continue and will shut down. As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can.
Don’t interrogate. Let the child explain to you in his or her own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the child or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the child and make it harder for them to continue their story.
Reassure the child that they did nothing wrong. It takes a lot for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure him or her that you take what is said seriously, and that it is not the child’s fault.
Safety comes first. If you feel that your safety or the safety of the child would be threatened if you try to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later after the initial professional intervention.
Reporting child abuse and neglect
If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get them the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives.
Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse
| I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child is automatically removed from the home - unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.
They will know it was me who called. Reporting is anonymous. In most states, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.
It won’t make a difference what I have to say. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
Reporting child abuse.
As difficult as reporting child abuse or neglect can be, it’s important for you to stand up for a child in need. Learn how to communicate effectively in different situations."
As parents we must protect our children from the predators which lie in wait for them; they are there and don't think "It can't happen to me". Love your child, tell him/her they can always come to you with anything and encourage them in that. Tell them if anyone ever touches them or does something that makes them hurt, scared or uncomfortable to come to you right away and you will protect them. Protect their little bodies, lives and their.....Innocence.
- Sam Stewart -
Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet; Emily M. Douglas and Frank Finkelhor
Child Abuse and Neglect, Helpguide.org