The Role of Environment in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Preventing child sexual abuse is the responsibility of each and one of us. As an adult, we need to be aware of the scope sexual abuse and the signs of a child that may experienced sexual abuse. So that we can quickly respond to it even before any child is harmed.

So, what's sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse involves touching and non-touching behaviour performed by adult or older adolescent to a child for sexual stimulation.

Touching behaviours include:

  • Touching a child’s genitals (penis, testicles, vulva, breasts, or anus) for sexual pleasure or other unnecessary purpose.
  • Making a child touch someone else’s genitals, or playing sexual (“pants-down”) games.
  • Putting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or a penis) inside the vulva or vagina, in the mouth, or in the anus of a child for sexual pleasure or other unnecessary purpose.

Non-touching behaviors include:

  • Showing pornography to a child.
  • Exposing a person’s genitals to a child.
  • Asking children to interact sexually with one another.
  • Online enticement of a child for sexual purposes.
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses.
  • Exposing a child to adult sexual activity in person or through the use of technology.
  • Watching a child undress or use the bathroom, often without the child’s knowledge (known as voyeurism or being a “Peeping Tom”).

Signs of child that is potentially experiencing sexual abuse

Most of sexual abused victim do not dare to report or tell anyone what they are experiencing. But, as an adult we need to be sensitive to the behavioural symptoms of sexual abused victim so that we can be responsive for helping the victim. Pay attention of this symptoms.

  • Nightmares, sleep problems, extreme fears without an obvious explanation
  • Sudden or unexplained personality changes; seems withdrawn, angry, moody, clingy, “checked-out” or shows significant changes in eating habits
  • An older child behaving like a younger child (for example, bedwetting or thumb-sucking)
  • Develops fear of certain places or resists being alone with an adult or young person for unknown reasons
  • Shows resistance to routine bathing, toileting or removing clothes even in appropriate situations
  • Play, writing, drawings or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Refuses to talk about a secret he or she has with an adult or older child
  • Stomach aches or illness, often with no identifiable reason
  • Leaves clues that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Uses new or adult words for body parts
  • Engages in adult-like sexual activities with toys, objects or other children
  • Develops special relationship with older friends that may include unexplained money, gifts or privileges
  • Intentionally harms himself or herself, for example, drug/alcohol use, cutting, burning, running away, sexual promiscuity
  • Becomes increasingly secretive around use of the Internet or cell phone
  • Develops physical symptoms such as unexplained soreness, pain or bruises around genital or mouth, sexually-transmitted disease, or pregnancy

The Role of Environment

A safe environment for he/she to grow is a fundamental right of a child. Thus, it is our tasks to prepare our environment as a conducive place for our kids to develop. Preventing child sexual abuse must be done by all elements of the community. Here are what we can do.

  1. Family
  • Create a culture of open communication within the family where the child are free to talk with parents comfortably

2. Community

  • Collective movement of protecting and preventing the sexual abuse
  • Notification of the sexual abuser as a social punishment so that the community is more aware of that particular person

3. Government

  • Severe punishment for the abuser
  • Comprehensive rehabilitation program for the victim
  • Digital media regulation, especially blocking sexually explicit contents

Personal take on this topic

It is true that it takes a village to raise a child. Especially in preventing the child from sexual abuse, it needs a collaborative effort from all elements of the community. The first and most important thing prevention is in the family. How parents instil positive values to the the children and how the accustom an open communication within the family. On top of that, accompanying the child in doing his/her activity  is suggested so that parents are well aware of child's activity and strengthen the family bond too.