Child sexual abuse is a devastating experience that affects a child’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Adults play a vital role in child sexual abuse prevention, but they often fail to do so. Several reasons contribute to this failure, and the majority of these reasons arise due to fear and lack of awareness among the adults. Moreover, when adults fail in child sexual abuse prevention and it impacts a child and their family leaving a strong mark on their personal and professional lives. Thus, it is crucial to address these issues and create a safe and supportive environment for child sexual abuse prevention
A questionnaire administered to 12,447 children which showed that across the country, every 2nd child was being subjected to a form of sexual abuse and every 5th child was facing severe forms of sexual abuse.
6 Reasons why Adults Fail in child sexual abuse prevention?
- Generational Trauma
Atleast 33 percent of victims of child sexual abuse, tend to become culprits when they grow up.
Every parent was once a child and sometimes we forget to foresee that they have their own childhood traumas which had been left untreated during their childhood. When they were young, the mental health unawareness and stiff parental norms forced them to live with their traumas. In worst case scenarios, if a parent had been a survivor of child sexual abuse, and the parent was not able to disclose it, there are very high chances that they would not be able to handle the same situation happening to their children. They would simply replicate the same behaviour, with which they had been treated during their childhood.
- Improper communication
One of the primary reasons why adults fail to address in child sexual abuse prevention is the generation gap.
The previous generation is wired to the stiff social norms and stereotypes, which makes it hard for them to answer the curious questions asked by children. Due to this uneasiness between the parent and child during childhood, it usually distances them and creates generation gap.
Children require a safe space to open up about any maltreatment happening to them, but if they fear the outcome of opening up, they will not speak up.
Communication, comfort, trust and space are pillars that hold and make a bond stronger. But when these start disrupting, a child usually gets lonely and it becomes an opportunity for groomers and Paedophiles to groom children and sexually abuse them. So, lack of these pillars can make a child an easy victim of sexual abuse.
- Ignorance of parents towards Children’s Curiosity
We don’t talk about sexual abuse so openly, do we? So many people around us might not even take such topics into consideration. How cold, isn’t it?
Children are very curious, they want to know everything happening around them by hook or by crook. They would first come to you, but if you shun them away, they will go to their best friends called the Internet, which would open a door of dark topics for them.
A lot of these adults and parents might lack awareness of these important topics. Some of them are mentioned below:
- Adolescence and the ongoing changes
- Gender Identity
- Child sexual abuse and its prevention
- Reporting of abuse
- Child rights
- Societal attitudes and beliefs
Societal attitudes and beliefs also play a significant role in child sexual abuse prevention. Victimization about survivors, such as blaming them for the abuse and normalizing abusive conduct, might discourage parents from reporting abuse. Moreover, as parents are also a part of this society, in many cases, they also tend to blame their children.
In more than 93 percent of cases, the culprit is known to the child. In situations, when the culprit is from the family, it gives parents a hard time to accept that their own blood can do such an act. This puts parents into a different jeopardy to whether they believe the child or not.
- Difficulty in recognizing and reporting abuse
Difficulty in recognizing and reporting abuse is another challenge that affects child sexual abuse prevention. A lack of understanding about what constitutes abuse, fear of reprisal, emotional relationship to the abuser, societal shame, and confidence in the abuser are all factors that can make it difficult for victims to speak up and seek treatment. Eliminating these barriers by educating the public and fostering a secure and supportive atmosphere in which victims may disclose abuse is essential.
The failure of adults in child sexual abuse prevention can have far-reaching consequences that can impact the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
- Power dynamics and manipulation
In India, only 3 % of Child Sexual Abuse related offenses were reported to the police.
Power dynamics and manipulation are also significant factors that prevent adults from protecting their children. Power may be used by an abuser to dominate, manipulate, and compel the victim into submission. Emotional manipulation, threats, and psychological abuse are all examples of such approaches.
The political influence and corruption in the country also disrupts the justice system, thus convincing parents into not reporting, and avoiding the entire hassle of feeling ashamed in the society.
7 Consequences of Adult Failure in child sexual abuse prevention!
- Mental Health: A child who is neglected, suffers greater mental health problems than physical health. Being a survivor, they are already suffering from a physical pain which might not have been healed yet by their bodies, and then the failure of adults will act as an additional negative impact in their lives.
- Stress and Anxiety: Ignorance and Neglect by parents lead to significant stress and anxiety in a child’s life. They will easily be stressed in different situations like exams, social interactions, public speaking, sports, and competitive exams. It will become difficult for them to remain calm and compose even in the least stressful situation.
- Suicidal Thoughts: An unwanted feeling generates many negative thoughts in a child’s life. A child may start getting suicidal thoughts in his/her life, as his/her presence may not bother anyone. The feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness due to adult’s neglect may cause the child to have suicidal ideas
- Building bad habits: To find a safety net, a child might make their peers or the internet their safe place and get influenced by them and get into drugs or alcohol, try to run away, refuse discipline, or abuse others. As an adult, they may develop various mental, physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual barriers which will destroy their marital as well as individual life.
- Trust issues: The child at a very vulnerable stage has been deceived by his family members who didn’t stand up for them when he needed them the most. Now, they will have a hard time putting their faith into someone which is usually accompanied by too much overthinking and anxiety.
- Unstable relationships: The relationship between the parent and the child is hampered. Lots of miscommunications and misunderstandings. Parents usually expect the child to forget the incident and move on while the child expects his/her parents to provide a space for them to open up. Also, a lot of problems arise between the child and their spouse in the future because of trust issues and intimacy issues.
- Social awkwardness: Child becomes socially awkward. They become conscious and anxious around people even when they are accompanied by their parents.
As adults, it’s everyone’s responsibility in child sexual abuse prevention. We must educate ourselves and others on the warning signs and red flags of sexual abuse, so we can identify potential abusers and prevent harm to our children. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s necessary. We must break the silence and speak up when we suspect abuse is happening. By taking action and being vigilant, we can create a safer environment for our children to grow and thrive. Let’s empower ourselves and our communities to protect our children and ensure their safety. Together, we can make a difference and contribute in child sexual abuse prevention
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