Royal commission backs preschool programs

Child sexual abuse prevention has many factors and we sometimes hear children should not  be expected to prevent it themselves. Clearly they should not but it is a bit like taking the seat belts out of cars because people should be more careful and not crash into each other.  We as adults should put everything we can in place to protect them but if we fail they need seat belts. There is nothing else between them and a life time of misery. Misery for the child and lifetime regret for ourselves. Great to hear the Royal commission has come to the same conclusion.

The report says prevention programs appear to be “effective at increasing young children’s ability to detect inappropriate touch requests”.

They also boost their skills “around what to do and say, who to tell and what to report if confronted by an inappropriate touch request”.

Every adult who is responsible for a child should be teaching Body Safety at home and positively agitating for it being taught in all levels of school but especially in the early years of 3 to 8.

State should fund rehab for paedophiles, say Centres Against Sexual Assault

There needs to be state funding for adult programs because once you’ve got an adult who’s offending they will have a lot of victims,” Ms Worth said. “The number can vary but that’s expensive for the state, so at one level it’s a cost saving to treat them before they get to the point of offending and then having to provide services for victims to deal with what’s happened to them.

Unfortunately it is a hard sell to do the sensible and productive thing. One gets the impression that most people favour castration, perpetual incarceration and execution - in that order.  As homosexuality was considered a lifestyle choice in the past many consider pedophilia to be a moral choice as well. If we treated it as a sickness instead and sort productive management strategies or even 'cures' we could prevent many lives being damaged. We need to get over our immediate visceral reaction to pedophilia and seek productive and pragmatic approaches to proactively keeping our children safe.

Sex abuse by children against children a growing and significant problem, royal commission hears

Lots of figures here but clearly they are only the tip of the iceberg.

But Ms Furness also told the hearing that sexual abuse by children against children was a growing and significant issue in out-of-home care.

”The major focus should be on efforts to prevent child-to-child sexual abuse rather than caregiver child sexual abuse since this type likely represents the vast majority of observed child sexual abuse in out-of-home care,” she said.

Statistically we have known for a long time that child on child abuse is a significant percentage of all abuse. Clearly specialist education is required with a focus on this issue for children in out-of-home care.

Warning on changed child abuse risks

Interesting quotes.

Children sexually abusing other children in care has become a greater concern than adults inflicting the abuse, a report has found.
“The major focus of preventing child sexual abuse in out-of-home-care should be on efforts to prevent child-child sexual abuse rather than caregiver-child sexual abuse,” the report, published on Monday, says.

Lets not claim "Mission Accomplished" on this one quite yet. Certainly I think many people underestimate the degree to which child on child abuse is a problem. Good to shine a light on.

12 things the media should have highlighted when a 5-year-old was murdered in Lahore

I missed the original story out of Pakistan but every aspect of the author's observations ring true.

... the media missed the opportunity to highlight, through its vast network, the importance of educating children, parents and caregivers about the issue of child sexual abuse; the need for strong and effective legislation against child sexual abuse; or the dearth of specialised care and rehabilitation for survivors, their families and the juvenile sex offenders. Most of the media ended up with sensationalised coverage of the case, highlighting gory details of the event and later, after the murderer was apprehended, asking irrelevant questions and details to cause further shock and awe.

This could happen in any free market economy. I'm talking about the reporting not the abuse/murder. The original crime could have occurred in any type of economy. The motivation for that is apparently and regrettably universal. We are however naive if we believe that the media thinks it has a responsibility to serve society. The rapid transformation of our news sources to their online versions has made the commercialisation of news much more obvious. 'Click bait' is the term for the most egregious form of it but all news from commercial sources is now selected and packaged to attract the most 'eyeballs'. They support themselves with advertising. They need to offer advertisers value for money and now they can measure eyeballs by counting clicks. The advent of online news means that while the potential market has expanded to anyone with an internet connection the corollary of that is that anyone with an internet connection can publish 'news' back the other way. Intense competition and human nature has resulted in a 'rush to the bottom'.

The bottom line in this and all too many cases is that the salacious details of child rape and murder are much more 'interesting' (dare I say 'entertaining') than the more abstract but likely to be encountered facts of child sexual abuse. People in aggregate can be very ugly.

Child sex abuse within families rampant

The new data, obtained exclusively by The Saturday Age, show that children were the victims in almost three-quarters of sex assault cases and a third of rape cases in Victoria last year. Girls aged 10  to 14 are the most likely to be abused.

As a child sexual abuse prevention/education advocate it is so great to see this on the front page of a major newspaper. This is where we need to be. Acknowledging it and talking about it. If our actions are founded in reality there is some hope of effective action.

Just think about what his happening to these children. Innocence perverted by very sick people. It makes me sick.

A beautiful lie on child abuse

It’s hard to imagine any beauty in the notion of strangers lurking behind every lamp post in America, desperate to kidnap children. But it is more attractive than the truth about who actually harms kids.

This article raises an interesting conundrum.  Which course of action will minimize the child's risk of sexual abuse?

A. Leaving a 9 year old girl unsupervised for many hours in a public park while the parent works

B. Taking the child from the parent and putting it into foster care.

The author was not sure of the figures in relation to foster care and neither am I but I am sure they are appallingly high.

Two of the first statistics anyone researching child sexual abuse learns is, it's very common, and most of it is committed by someone the child knows. And right there people generally start disengaging from the lesson.

Because they can't/don't want to accept the lesson they continually make the wrong decisions when it comes to children's welfare. There is a bigger lesson there.


Child sex abuse and the church – how they got away with it

Classic Briggs

Churches are wonderful places for paedophiles because they attract good-hearted people who believe in forgiveness and give others the benefit of the doubt. Offenders can say sorry on Sunday and re-offend on Monday confident that God will forgive them again next week.

This comprehensive and authoritative article lays it all out. On the whole churches just don't get it. Regrettably the same can be said for the general population.

Government to keep track of convicted child sex offenders

I think this headline should read "Government to waste 35 million dollars".

More than $35 million dollars will be used to run a register system which will keep track of convicted child sex offenders in Aotearoa.

If this is a case of either create a child sex abuse register or run a $35 million dollars worth of preventative education in primary schools I know where I'd put my money.

Two thirds of sexual abuse on children is committed by other young people, NSPCC finds

More than 8000 under-18s were accused of sexually abusing children and other young people in the last two years. This makes up around two thirds of all reported cases of child sex abuse.

When parents consider their child's exposure to the risk of sexual abuse I fear we often overlook the other children in their lives. This is clearly a mistake.

He said: “Children may struggle to understand boundaries as a consequence of exposure to inappropriate material such as online pornography, violent films or computer games.”

If this is true we would expect this situation to get worse as more and more children get unsupervised online access. My conversations with professionals in the field would seem to anecdotally confirm this.  It is getting worse. Children are acting out behaviors on other children that should not occur to any young child.

Forget sex offender register ...

I have to agree. Publicly accessible sex offender registers are lame and probably counter productive.

If we're serious about protecting our children from sexual abuse, then we need a strategy which deals with the facts.

Fact is most child sex offenders have not been caught yet so they are not on any register. Thinking you can sleep better at night because a sex offender register exists is unrealistic to put it mildly and politely.

What Parents Need to Know: The one “fact of life” that kids must learn

Many popular sex abuse prevention programs focus on teaching kids about “good touch-bad touch”, but the words of one adult survivor of sexual abuse must be heard: “No one ever tells a child that a wrong touch might actually feel good!”

While I have read this statement repeatability over the years, I don't think I fully thought through the implications. This article makes them very clear. It leads naturally and convincingly to this conclusion.

Children with knowledge and language are less appealing to molesters, who seek out kids lacking the tools to speak up. Children who know the fundamental difference between healthy privacy (“I can do it without Mom or Dad watching“) and secrecy (“Mom and Dad can’t know about this“) are less likely to be sworn to the silence that provides cover to people who sexually abuse children.  And, if a child is touched inappropriately like thousands are each year,  the knowledge that their body’s autonomic reaction doesn’t make them complicit and that there are no secrets from mom and dad will spare them the devastating confusion resulting from experiencing a physical response that they neither wanted nor expected.

Why I spoke out about being sexually abused

Mathew Sandusky, the adopted son of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky eloquently expresses his thoughts as to why we need to normalize conversations about child sexual abuse.

... we all must begin the tough process of speaking about child sexual abuse. We can no longer revictimize and shame survivors due to our inability to face the traumatic experiences they've been through.

They are good thoughts.  I urge you to read the full article.

WA’s shame: ten children sexually abused every week

Former District Court chief judge Antoinette Kennedy, who spent more than a decade on the bench, said it would be “rare” for a week to go by without most of the 27 District Court judges dealing with at least one child sex abuse case.
“You could speak to any judge and most would tell you that they spend most of their time dealing with pedophiles and child sex offenders,” she said. “But because they are often related to the victim or if you identify the offender’s name it might reveal the identity of the child, it means it does not get reported.
“A lot of cases also don’t make it to trial. A lot of these offenders plead guilty and therefore the public don’t know about it.”

“The vast majority of children are abused by someone they know and the majority of those are abused within the home, within the family in your average neighbourhood,” president Dr Cathy Kezelman said.

“While it’s important to be aware of sexual assault by a stranger and pedophiles, we also as a society need to start talking about what does happen within the family home and break that taboo, so people can speak out and know where to turn. This is a pervasive social problem and it doesn’t appear to be particular to any nationality or religious group – it’s worldwide.”

While the information presented in this article is a legitimate cause for dismay the fact that the article exists at all, and then in a mainstream newspaper, is cause for hope and encouragement. This is what I call the last taboo. The fact that most child abuse is happening in the home or very close by is skirted around by most people and there is consequently very little political pressure to do anything about it.  The more the fact is spotlighted in the media and hopefully accepted by the public, the more likely steps will be taken to address the issue. We have to acknowledge that there is a problem before we can start to address it. Before we can acknowledge it we have to be able to speak about it.

It is a start.

Family-abuse children 'unprotected', commissioner warns

You don't see child sexual abuse within the family mentioned by almost anyone. It is the last unspoken taboo. Heartening to see it starting to get discussed especially since it is probably the most prevalent kind. Rarely tackled directly.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner in the UK has launched a 2 year inquiry into how to best to tackle the problem of child sexual abuse. Commenting on a recently released report based on an analysis of 57,226 research studies into child sexual abuse England's deputy children's commissioner Sue Berelowitz said:

It showed there were "glaring omissions" in what was known about abuse in family environments ...
"Alarming gaps" in knowledge about abuse within families mean "substantial numbers" of children are not adequately protected ...

Report author Dr Miranda Horvath:

"Child victim-survivors' voices and first-hand experiences were absent from the vast majority of the research we reviewed for this rapid evidence assessment.
"It is imperative that future research and the work of the inquiry brings these to the fore using ethical but innovative methods, with the well-being of the child at the centre.
"At the same time, we need to know more about programmes that are focused on preventing family-based child sexual abuse before it occurs, in order to take a preventative rather than reactive approach."

All good steps in the right direction.




... open discussion as way to prevent child sexual abuse

I'm blown away by this. Community Cafés are new to me.

Community Café employs the World Café Process of developing grassroots leadership to talk deeply about issues that really matter to a community. The process has proven effective in tackling complex issues worldwide.

I don't know about other issues or cases but the series dealing with Child Sexual Abuse Prevention has hit an impressive series of home runs in my opinion. I read a lot of articles on this subject and their key findings resonate strongly with my current thinking. They are remarkably lucid and succinct leaving me unable to paraphrase. The first one and sets the tone well.

  • It is difficult and distasteful to talk about children being sexually exploited. To talk about it, we have to confront our own feelings of embarrassment, anger, fear and shame. But we recognize that by not talking about it, we allow the perpetrators to continue.

I'd love to quote them all but that would not be fair. Please go to the article and read them. They are so spot on. They conclude:

... in order to prevent child sexual abuse we have to be able to talk about it. We can’t afford to pretend it doesn’t happen or that it can’t happen. We have to have multiple avenues for adults and children to talk about sexuality in healthy, appropriate ways. Children need to feel it is OK to ask questions of trusted adults. We can be those trusted adults for the children in our lives, and we can urge the medical community, schools, and religious organizations to become proactive partners with parents and caregivers.

It is impossible for me to overstate my resounding agreement with this sentiment.

‘witch-hunt narrative’ of child sexual-abuse

Much of the reason the witch-hunt narrative has prevailed, according to Cheit, is that it’s easier for people to believe that child sexual abuse doesn’t happen because the topic itself is taboo. Cheit cites the work of Dr. Suzanne M. Sgroi, who wrote in 1978 that “the sexual abuse of children is a crime that our society abhors in the abstract but tolerates in reality.”

Communities have been known to rally around people convicted of this crime, Cheit writes.

“We often minimize and deny so as to allow us to avoid seeing things we would rather not see. Turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children has a long history in this country.”

This is a thought provoking article. The book would probably be worthy of one's time. While it apparently investigates a fairly specific series of events that I'm not familiar with, it resonates with broader observations I have made but never thought through. There are child sexual abuse deniers just like there are holocaust deniers. Some think it is just too horrific and totally incomprehensible to be true especially of 'decent looking people'. Something capable of it must surely have horns and a tail and could not be this ordinary and unremarkable person I know and possibly respect. For the accusation to be true they reason, 'I would have to be totally wrongheaded in my world view'. Easier to reason 'the kid was put up to this'.

Have a look at the comments. There are a couple there that are as instructive as the article itself and ironically tend to support the article's contention which was clearly not the commenter's aim.