Child sexual abuse

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Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse typically defined as any sexual activity performed by an adult on a child or any unwanted or inappropriate sexual behavior by another child.[1] The term "child" varies between jurisdictions, but is generally considered to be somebody who has not reached or not completed adolescence. Child sexual abuse is generally distinct from statutory rape, which involves an adult and a minor (generally around 14-18, depending on the laws of different states and nations), with apparent (though, by definition, not legally valid) consent being a major distinguishing factor.

Child sexual assault is one of the truly taboo acts, considered morally reprehensible in nearly all circumstances. The primary justification for sexual contact between children and adults being considered wrong is that a child cannot give full informed consent to sexual activity; being at an age where, perhaps partly as a result of cultural values of obedience instilled in them,[2] they are likely to believe and submit to any adults they meet (particularly custodians), they are not in a position to fully understand their actions in the context that the adult does.

Child sexual abuse poses extreme and irreversible developmental risks to children. It was formerly widely believed by the public that such abuse was rather rare, but in the 1980s, large numbers of victims began coming forward with their stories, greatly raising the profile of the problem. It is now believed that at least one in 10 people have been sexually abused as a child.[1]

It is not to be confused with paedophilia, which is just sexual attraction, and not necessarily abusive.[3] Many paedophiles choose to go the route of Christian homosexuals, and be attracted, but not act on the urges for moral or practical reasons. Some pedophiles, convicted and otherwise, have undergone physical or chemical castration to limit the risk they present to others.

Contents

[edit] Examples of large scale child sexual abuse

[edit] Modern child-brides

It has been estimated that there are over 50,000 child brides in the world at any given time. Unicef defines child marriage as: "a formal marriage or informal union before age 18" [4] and many child brides are very young, not having yet reached puberty. In some places children are married as young as 9 or 10 years old. India is often claimed as having the highest rate of child brides, however the practice is also found in Guatemala, Niger, Pakistan and Afghanistan - in all cases, rural, uneducated, and impoverished areas have the highest incidents of child marriage. In early 2014, the practise came briefly in the news when Iraq announced it was drafting a law that would legalize marriage as early as 9.[5] These countries have long cultural and religious traditions of marrying young girls - marriages which today are likely to be consummated at the time of marriage, and not after the child has begun menstruating.[6][7]

[edit] The priest molestation scandals

See the main article on this topic: Child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church

In the early 2000s, multiple hundreds if not thousands of charges that priests in the Roman Catholic Church had committed sexual assault on children came to light. With each new story, more adults who had been abused as children stepped forward to add their voice despite pressure on them to keep silent. The vast majority of these incidents had been covered up by the Church itself. The priest was simply moved to a new parish, often without punishment or counseling. And often the priest re-offended in the new parish without parents knowing he was a danger to children.

[edit] Orthodox Jewish crisis

Several stories in the recent years have demonstrated that there has been long running abuse of young boys within the Yeshivas and the bathouses. It is highly disconcerting to note that the local Orthodox authority will try to pay off the families to keep them quiet. Failing that, that the local Orthodox community shuns anyone who speaks out about such abuse.[8]i

[edit] When valid concern turns to fear and woo

The Daily Star attacking a television show over depicting pedophilia, while also sexualizing 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church

[edit] The day care panic

In the mid 1980s a number of people involved in the day care industry (caring for other people's children while they were at work) in the U.S. were accused of various levels and amounts of sexual abuse of children in their care, often in connection with Satanic ritual abuse.

Of prime note is the Amirault family day care scandal, which put several adults in jail. Although the evidence against them has been debunked, the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld all of their convictions on the grounds of "finality" (i.e. that reopening it would be "unfair" for the alleged victims — no concern for whether it's "unfair" to have been wrongly convicted, of course). All those convicted are free on probation or parole, but still considered legally guilty, and subject to being registered as sex offenders, forbidden contact with children, etc. [9]

These day care incidents helped set off the "memory war" and scientific drama hurricane surrounding the research of Elizabeth Loftus.

[edit] The gay agenda

Many individuals and organizations (namely Paul Cameron,[10] the Family Research Council,[11] and Focus On The Family[12]) opposed to societal acceptance of homosexuality claim that homosexuals routinely abuse children sexually as a means of "recruiting" them into the lifestyle, and claim that part of the "homosexual agenda" is the reduction or abolition of laws regarding the age of consent. These claims are usually justified by pointing to NAMBLA, Catholic sexual abuse cases, or other scandals involving male victims of adult male abusers (Jerry Sandusky, Mark Foley, etc). There are several problems with this assertion:

  • There are a great number of CSA cases which go unreported,[13] which makes it difficult to make blanket claims about the demographics of CSA; nevertheless there is no statistical evidence, among cases of CSA that are reported, that the percentage of cases where the victim and abuser are the same gender is greater than the percentage of homosexuals in the population at large.[14]
  • NAMBLA has never been accepted by the mainstream LGBT community, and has not existed as a functional organization for decades.
  • Most experts (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers) agree that those who commit CSA do not have an adult sexual orientation, and that pedophilia (or hebephelia, if the victim is an adolescent) is distinct from heterosexuality or homosexuality. Many abusers (such as Jerry Sandusky) lead seemingly normal lives with adult partners, regardless of the gender of their victims.[15]
  • While the origins of homosexuality are the subject of much debate, most LGBT people do not experience their sexuality as the result of "recruitment." There are many victims of CSA who lead heterosexual lives as adults, and many adults who are LGBT were not victims of CSA.

[edit] Psychological effects

Associations between sexual abuse in childhood and psychological problems in adulthood have been found by most papers investigating the effect of child sexual abuse. Although child sexual abuse has no characteristic pattern of outcome,[16] some abused children later suffer from depression, PTSD, drug abuse disorders, and a wide range of other problems. At the very least, half of abused children appear to experience negative sequelae.[17]

No matter how clear the harm is, research on the issue has, however, been clouded by the simple fact that the best available research methods are unusable in studies of sexual abuse. For example, it is unethical and abhorrent to randomly allocate children to experience sexual abuse. Not surprisingly, research on the subject is challenging. Pope & Hudson, 1995, argued that many studies "are so severely vulnerable to selection bias, information bias, and lack of consideration of confounding variables that they are rendered almost valueless."[18] Assessing the specific harm of child sexual abuse can be obscured by the effects of a non-supportive family environment, even more so when researchers rely on small sample sizes.[19] To counter that, large national level samples must rely on self-reports of more broadly defined sexual abuse that, when combined via meta-analysis, become even further watered down. [20]

Despite the complexity of sexual abuse research, twin studies convincingly show that actual specific harm can be tied to various levels of sexual abuse.[21][22]

Along with methodological challenges, the research itself is too easily discounted by casual reading. When, for example, a researcher shows that the labeling a person as an abuse victim causes harm, a quick reader might miss that the actual findings are that the labeling harm occurs "[i]n addition to any direct, negative effects of CSA."[18] However, as one study shows, the label a victim applies to describe the experience has very little to do with the actual experienced harm.[23]

However, even researchers who cast doubt on the sequelae of child sexual abuse remain convinced that such sexual contact with children is wrong since "children are incapable of consent"[24], and that "[i]t would be ludicrous to suggest that CSA, in and of itself, does not have damaging influences on the adjustment of the child"[18].

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

  • Video: Panorama: "Sex and the Vatican" -- Episode from the BBC news magazine about child sex abuse coverups by the Vatican. (29 September 2006 -- 39 minutes.)
  • Video: Frontline: "Hand of God" -- Episode from the PBS news magazine about child sex abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. (16 January 2007 -- 90 minutes, cut into ten segments. Click on a picture to view that segment.)

[edit] Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ainscough, Carolyn and Toon, Kay. Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse.
  2. Ainscough and Toon suggest that the potential for abuse can be mitigated by teaching children that they need not submit to adults' requests for physical touching (even non-sexual touching such as hugs) to which they feel uncomfortable acceding.
  3. Pedophilic disorder is listed in section 302.2 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. "Sexual abuse of child" is listed in section V61.21 (a "severe mistreatment" catchall that also encompasses neglect and physical abuse of children) if the focus of clinical attention is on the perpetrator, and 995.53 if the focus is on the child. The DSM devotes much more space to descriptions and diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder than for child sexual abuse.
  4. http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58008.html
  5. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/20/iraq-child-marriage-bill-human-rights ; http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/04/10/iraq-poised-to-legalize-marriage-for-girls-as-young-as-9/?tid=hp_mm ; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10753645/Iraq-ready-to-legalise-childhood-marriage.html
  6. 11-year old girl married to 40-year old man
  7. http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/06/29/137059781/the-secret-world-of-child-brides
  8. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-shun-their-own-for-reporting-child-sexual-abuse.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www
  9. http://www.cyberussr.com/hcunn/witch/fells.html
  10. http://www.familyresearchinst.org/2012/01/how-much-child-molestation-is-homosexual/
  11. http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=is02e3
  12. http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/06/17/childhood-sexual-abuse-and-male-homosexuality/
  13. Watkins, B.; Bentovim, A. (1992). "The sexual abuse of male children and adolescents: a review of current research". Journal of Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry 33 (10): 197–248. Template:Citation error. PMID 1737828. http://www.sasian.org/papers/boysngirls.htm. 
  14. http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/faculty_sites/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html
  15. Groth, A.N., & Birnbaum, H.J. (1978). Adult sexual orientation and attraction to underage persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7 (3), 175-181.
  16. K.A. Kendall-Tackett, L.M. Williams and D. Finkelhor. (1993). "Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies," Psychological Bulletin 113 (1993), pp. 164–180
  17. Fergusson, D.M. & Mullen, P.E. (1999). "Childhood sexual abuse: An evidence based perspective," Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1026&context=psychfacpub
  19. Nash et al., 1993. M.R. Nash, T.L. Hulsey, M.C. Sexton, T.L. Harralson and W. Lambert (1993). Long-term sequelae of childhood sexual abuse: Perceived family environment, psychopathology, and dissociation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 61 , pp. 276–283.
  20. B. Rind, P. Tromovitch and R. Bauserman (1998). A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin 124, pp. 22–53.
  21. Nelson, E. C. et al (2002)Association Between Self-reported Childhood Sexual Abuse and Adverse Psychosocial Outcomes: Results From a Twin Study Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(2), 139-145.
  22. Kendler, K. S., Bulik, C. M., Silberg, J., Hettema, J. M., Myers, J., & Prescott, C. A. (2000). "Childhood sexual abuse and adult psychiatric and substance use disorders in women: An epidemiological and cotwin control analysis," Archives of General Psychiatry, 57 , 953-959.
  23. B. Allen, A. Tellez, A. Wevodau, C. L. Woods, A. Percosky (2014). The Impact of Sexual Abuse Committed by a Child on Mental Health in Adulthood. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(12), 2257-2272.
  24. http://www.salon.com/2010/01/19/trauma_myth_interview/
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