Child Sexual Abuse

May 1, 2017
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 Sexual abuse happens when one is frequently forced into different types of sexual behavior against their will. Sexual abuse occurs too often among adults and it is also very common with children; it is considered child sexual abuse when the victim is 17 years old or younger. From all victims under 18, 34% are under the age of 12 and 66% are 12-17 years old and every eight minutes, Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved in a sexual abuse case. A large amount of children are victims of sexual abuse and although it can’t be solved there are ways we can work to prevent it. Middle schools and high schools should include self-defense lessons into fitness classes like P. E. and the capability of counselors are misused for students who seek help from a trusted adult. Students should be required to have at least one counseling session each month with their school's counselor to have open communication with someone who can help them as well as parents, to prevent sexual abuse and other problems including suicide, eating disorders, and depression.

Child sexual abuse is mainly found within a family home, and as stated by Darla Daigle, “The seven most frequent abusers are: 1. Natural father 2. Step-father 3. Mother’s boyfriend 4. Mother 5. Uncle 6. Grandparent 7. Brother”.  According to Marvin Rosen, “Adults who sexually abuse children relate better emotionally and become sexually aroused by them”. The abuse is also about control and power over the children. Sarah Medina described that abusers can be “respected members of the community, such as religious leaders, coaches, or teachers.” Seven percent of the time the abuser is a stranger, 34% are a family member and 59% the perpetrator turns out to be an acquaintance. From 63,000 child sexual abuse cases reported to Child Protective Services, it was found that 80% of the time the abuser was a direct parent. One’s childhood plays an important role for future offenders, and in some cases, victims of child sexual abuse ended up becoming predators themselves in their adulthood. Marvin Rose wrote that at a very young age, we create an immensely strong bond to our parents. If that bond is broken, a child could be both emotionally and mentally affected, “The way a person reacts to certain situations as an adult is influenced by their experiences as a child”. An example of this is if an infant is cared and nurtured for by their parents when born, they will grow up to be more affectionate than children who weren’t, and often times those children become less attached and usually grow more aggressive towards their parents.

For victims of child sexual abuse, effects can vary from long term and short term. Short term effects include anxiety or abusive injuries on the body, like bruises. Long term effects are pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and drug/alcohol abuse.

When it comes to teen pregnancy, young girls are limited to a few options, those being keeping the baby, giving it up for adoption, or termination. None of the options are always the best solution. If they carry out a pregnancy and keep the baby, it would most likely mean dropping out of high school or college. That would result in a low paying job and not much education to go off from. When this happens, their children usually grow up in low-income households classified as a lower class family. Then, there are the obvious effects like sexually transmitted diseases and infections which come with their own challenges. Most abused victims grow up and turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping. People who abuse drugs and alcohol become very violent, aggressive and put their own health and safety at risk. In most cases, the victims are too young to understand or know much about sex but once they grow up some are able to fight back. Many victims leave for college to get as far away as possible from their homes, but even in college they can come across sexual assault. Overall, women have from one in ten and one in six chances of being victims of rape or attempted rape. On campus, 11.2% of students experience rape or sexual assault.

A way to prevent child sexual abuse is by including self-defense lessons into fitness classes like Physical Education (P. E.) for both girls and boys. Most of the time the activities performed are for fun, but by including at least a few self-defense lessons into classes can benefit many when faced with a threat. For a lot of people, knowing they can defend themselves gives one more confidence in standing up for themselves to keep safety. Fitting these lessons into fitness courses doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the games of dodgeball or basketball, but rather using the time to teach students a way of safety that can be applied out in the real world. When young people start dating there is this pressure on having sex and it can lead to date rape. This type of sexual violence can happen even in middle schools. In the case of Dea Goodman’s daughter, there was a boy who constantly wanted to have sex with her so she sought help from a teacher, the plan was to catch the boy in the act in a school restroom, but before anyone came to help the boy raped her. From an Alief survey consisting of 60 students, 40% of them don’t think they or someone they know could be a victim of any kind of sexual violence and 56.7% feel our schools do not do a good job at informing them about sexual violence. Students need to learn more about sexual abuse and how to defend themselves in difficult situations where they won’t have anyone to help them, and including self defense lessons into fitness curriculums to do that is very cost efficient.

Another solution would be requiring students to have at least one counseling session each month with their school’s counselor so they can have someone to talk to and that can assist in a crisis. Too many kids go through emotional trauma and don’t like to open up to adults in fear of embarrassment. Counselors can help for academic, family and individual purposes. In individual counseling, counselors can talk about personal issues a student is having at school or at home. Conversations are confidential unless there is information that can regards a student's safety. Alexandra Pannoni explains that counseling is not the same as giving therapy to kids, but rather that they can refer them to professionals. For Kenyata Ohuonu, one of Albright’s counselors, she has kids come in to and talk to her almost every day. She helps her students by giving them strength and encouragement and she also makes sure they feel safe and comfortable. It’s important to her to try and build relationships with students to let them know she cares about each of them. Ms. Ohuonu feels it would be better if counselors were given their own lounge-type space so kids can feel less intimidated by having principals and vice principals near. Ms. Ohuonu advises counseling for any family dealing with a crisis because counselors serve as people who can provide an unbiased opinion about a situation, and it’s great to have someone neutral in a dilemma. A counseling session once a month gives students who seek help the opportunity to talk with someone who knows how to assist.

Including self-defense classes and requiring a counseling session each month for middle schools and high schools are both effective and an inexpensive solution to prevent and understand child sexual abuse. The next victim of sexual abuse could be your niece, your neighbor’s child or even your own child. The solution for sexual abuse starts with preventing it at home along with at schools. 

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