October 5, 2021

CHILD ABUSE: WHO CARRIES IT OUT?

Who sexually abuses children?
Child sexual abuse is committed by men, women, teenagers and other children. Offenders come from all parts of society and all backgrounds. They often seem ‘normal’ to others and in many cases their friends, relatives and co-workers find it hard to believe that they have abused a child.

Relationship between the child and their abuser;
Many children who have experienced sexual abuse were abused by someone they know. This may be:

-a member of their family
-a friend
-an adult who has sought out and targeted them as a potential victim.
-Religious personells trusted by the parents or family of the child

Perpetrators of child sexual abuse may look for weak spots in a family, community or organisation so they can gain unsupervised access to children. They often plan the abuse in advance and start grooming the child, the child’s family and the child’s environment. The victim may believe they have a sincere or loving relationship with their abuser and their family and friends may trust and respect the abuser.

Research suggests that child sexual abuse can be carried out in different ways.
-Inappropriate relationships where an older abuser has some kind of power over the child. This could be physical, emotional or financial.

-The “boyfriend/girlfriend” model involves the abuser grooming the child by exchanging gifts and other normal dating activities. The child may think they are in a conventional relationship

-Organised exploitation and trafficking where children are abused by more than one adult as part of a network. The child may be forced or manipulated into taking part in sexual acts with other people. Organised exploitation may involve the movement of victims into and across the country, as well as exchanging images of child abused.

If you think a child must have been abused, the best thing to do is to save the child and report to the authorities and child safety organisations around you.

Assessment:
Most sexual abuse isn’t reported, detected or prosecuted. This may be because adults in the child's life do not recognise the signs that they are being abused, the child may not understand what's happening to them is abuse or may be too afraid to speak out.

When assessing a child who has been sexually abused, it’s important to focus on the child’s individual needs.

-Listen to the child’s point of view.

-Ensure the child knows they are taken seriously and that they will be protected. Make it clear that abuse is never a child’s fault.

-Include children in making decisions that affect them.

-Remember that children don’t always respond to direct questions and may not have the words to describe their experience or its impact.

-Identify the child's support network. Do this with the child where possible.

-Assess parents’ and carers’ ability to protect the child from further abuse.

-Identify roles and responsibilities of all professionals involved with the child, and follow agreed procedures to share information about child protection concerns.

-Creating safer environments
Using a contextual safeguarding approach to prevent child sexual abuse allows adults to think about the places where abuse might happen outside of the home and take action to mitigate potential risks in each location.

-Physical environments
Young people are likely to spend time in environments with little or no adult supervision. It’s important to consider the risks posed to young people in these areas. Keep children safe by checking regularly on areas that are infrequently used or left unsupervised, such as quiet corridors or outdoor spaces. Also ensure all areas are well lit.

-Online environments
Children can be vulnerable to sexual abuse and inappropriate content in the online world. There are actions parents, carers and organisations can take to keep online spaces safe for children. It's also important children are given the knowledge and skills needed to keep themselves safe online, to build their own resilience.

-People who work or volunteer with children Follow safer recruitment practices to ensure that only suitable adults work with children and that everyone working or volunteering with children has regular child protection training so they know the signs of sexual abuse and how to respond appropriately.

-Empowering children and parents
It’s important that parents and carers know how to keep their children safe. They need to know what questions to ask about the people who are working with children and be able to have conversations with their children about difficult topics.

-Talking to children about sexual abuse
Talking PANTS is a simple way to talk to children as young as four about the underwear rule and encourage them to speak out if someone touches them inappropriately.

-It's important to have ongoing discussions with children and young people about relationships. This gives you the opportunity to promote healthy behaviours and let young people know you are there for them if they ever need support.

-Children may not always be aware that they are in an unhealthy relationship, particularly if they are being groomed. Make sure you are able to recognise the signs of sexual abuse and respond appropriately. 

-Speaking out;
It’s vital to build safe and trusting relationships with children so they can speak out about any problems they are experiencing. This involves teaching children what abuse is and how they can get help.

October 2, 2021

CHILD ABUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is when a child is forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This may involve physical contact or non-contact activities and can happen online or offline. Children and young people may not always understand that they are being sexually abused. 

Contact abuse involves activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child. It includes:

-sexual touching of any part of the body, whether the child is wearing clothes or not

-forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activities.

-making a child take their clothes off or touch someone else's genitals.

-Rape or penetration by putting an object or body part inside a child's mouth, vagina or anus.

Non-contact abuse involves activities where there is no physical contact. It includes:

-Flashing at a child.

-Encouraging or forcing a child to watch or hear sexual acts.

-not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others.

-making a child masturbate while others watch

-Persuading a child to make, view or distribute child abuse images (such as performing sexual acts over the internet, sexting or showing pornography to a child)

-Making, viewing or distributing child abuse images 
allowing someone else to make, view or distribute child abuse images

-Meeting a child following grooming with the intent of abusing them (even if abuse did not take place).

-Sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (child sexual exploitation).

Impact of child sexual abuse:
Experiencing sexual abuse can have a long-lasting negative impact on a child’s wellbeing that can reach into adulthood. Effects include:

-Mental health issues – such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

-Challenging behaviour – such as substance misuse, sexualised behaviour, offending

-Relationship problems – for example intimacy issues,having unstable relationships,being vulnerable to further sexual abuse or other types of abuse,etc.

Impact of online sexual abuse:
Research suggests that online child sexual abuse can have as much of an impact on a child as abuse that only takes place offline and can lead to the same psychological difficulties.

Brain development:
Trauma and adverse experiences, such as sexual abuse, can negatively affect the development of a child’s brain. Abuse may alter brain architecture, lead to heightened stress responses and weaken cognitive development.

Recognising child sexual abuse:
Signs and indicators;
Not all children will realise they are being sexually abused, particularly if they have been groomed. But there may be physical, behavioural and emotional signs that indicate a child has experienced sexual abuse.

Physical indicators include:
-bruising
-bleeding
-discharge
-pain or soreness in the genital or anal area
-sexually transmitted infections
-Pregnancy at a young age can also be an indicator of sexual abuse.

Emotional and behavioural indicators include:
-Being afraid of and/or avoiding a particular person (including a family member or friend)
-Having nightmares or bed-wetting
-being withdrawn
-Alluding to ‘secrets’
-Self-harming
-Running away from home
-Developing eating problems
-Displaying sexualised behaviour or having sexual knowledge that’s inappropriate for their stage of development
-misusing drugs or alcohol.

Risk and vulnerability factors:
Any child or young person could potentially experience sexual abuse – but some groups of children may be more at risk:

-disabled children 
-girls or boys below 17 years 
-children who have experienced other forms of abuse
-children (boys and girls) who are surrounded by parents or adults who don't pay attention to them or hear them out. Always shutting them up from speaking up things that happen around them.
-children who are raised by over religious parents or guardians who trust and value their religious partners more than their kids.