FAQs on Child Sexual Abuse


As parents we shudder to think of our child being sexually abused. We don't even want to imagine such a situation. However, Knowledge is power and forewarned, is forearmed. So here are a few frequently asked questions by parents about the subject:

How common is child abuse in India?According to Ministry of Women and Child development, Prayas, and UNICEF, 53% reported sexual abuse, out of which 21% was severe sexual abuse. But that doesn't mean 50% of our men (or women) are abusers because  there are many victims of one abuser.What aged children are more prone to sexual abuse?In the majority of cases, sexual abuse starts at the age of 5 years and reaches the highest at the age of 12 to 14 years and declines after that.Children don't talk about child sexual abuse. Why?Most of the times, the abuser belong to the family or is a  neighbor or friend. The child would get confused by the unsafe touch from such abusers. The child will also have a doubt if whatever the child says would be believed or nor. Taking advantage of the child's silence, the abuser continues with severe abuse and at this stage the child would feel since the matter was not brought into notice in the beginning itself, the child would be blamed.How can one make it easy for the child to forget the abuse that it had to undergo?It isn't easy for the children to forget sexual abuse. There will be a lot of behavioral changes - the child may start disliking oneself, feel guilty, lose interest, get aggressive or submissive, and so on. It would get difficult for the child to trust anyone. It becomes our responsibility to make the child feel better and convince that it was no fault of him/her. Taking them to counseling at the right time would help them recover faster.When should one protest about child sexual abuse?The protest should begin at the very early stage itself. Spanking, kissing, hugging against the child's liking should not be tolerated. It is from here the abuse begins.How far can child sexual abuse be prevented by watching the child all day long?A single adult looking after a child for 24 hours is not possible in reality. So it doesn't help much. Instead, the children should be equipped with enough knowledge about their body to enable them to take care of themselves in case of any abuse, and also be secure enough to understand that they can go to the right person for help.Does the child get frightened if you talk to them about child sexual abuse?We need not tell the children about child sexual abuse. Instead we should give them knowledge about personal safety, safe and unsafe touch. Let them know that any activity that causes discomfort to them should not be tolerated and should be reported immediately to the trusted adult. This will equip children instead of frightening them.How good or bad is it to let the society know of the child sexual abuse?If the family and the people who know of the abuse choose to stay silent , it will further boost the abuser courage leading him/her to  continue the abuse on the child and he may victimize more children. So, it becomes highly important to expose the abuser. The child will also feel protected when the abuser is punished.Should we just protect our child or help any child in need?If we know of any abuser, then it becomes our moral responsibility to keep the children's parents informed about that person. It will ensure safeguarding the children from any further damage.How can child sexual abuse be recognised?Whenever anybody notices sudden changes in a child that persists for a long time such that it is affecting the growth of the child, it becomes important to know what exactly is bothering the child. Talking to them, narrating various stories preferably using pictures or animated movies and watching their reaction can help in recognizing the reason behind the change in children's behaviour. It also helps the children to open up about their problems.