Child Sexual Abuse includes any sexual behavior or activity that is abusive toward another, a minor, and/or prohibited by state or federal law. Fondling, oral sex, simulated or actual intercourse, exhibitionism, taking sexually explicit pictures of children, showing sexually explicit material to children or having sex in front of a child are all considered child sexual abuse.
Most child molesters are able to molest dozens of children before they are caught. Boys and girls are at nearly equal risk to be abused and almost a quarter will be molested sometime before their 18th birthday. Most children do not tell anyone, and those who do often have to tell multiple people before someone calls the police or child welfare services. The overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse victims are abused by someone they know and trust, someone most parents would never suspect. Females are estimated to account for less than 20% of child molesters. There are different several types or names for sex offenders. Intra-famial or incest offenders
- These offenders sexually abuse their own children but can also abuse other relatives and neighbors and most have multiple victims. Most incest offenders appear normal and lead average lives. They may continue intimate relationships with wives and girlfriends while molesting children. If discovered or accused by their victims they are often able to talk family and friends out of reporting them. In some cases treatment may be effective. Pedophiles
- Are adults who are sexually attracted to and desire children. Often they may work or volunteer with children in positions such as coaches, teachers, Boy Scout leaders, ministers/priests, school bus drivers, day care providers. Some pedophiles believe they are showing love for the child and do not understand or care that their actions are harmful. They are likely to be single or live with their parents or have a dysfunctional marriage. Most molest many children before they are caught. Treatment is rarely effective. Sexually violent offenders
- These offenders kidnap, sometimes physically abuse, rape, and even murder some children. This group is the smallest but most dangerous and publicized group of child molesters. Many engage in other criminal behavior including adult rapes, and are often chronic drug users. Treatment is rarely effective. Sexual exploiters includes exhibitionists
who expose to children, computer surfers who solicit children over the Internet and child pornographers. Men in their 20's and older who form sexual relationships with young teenage girls, sometimes as young as 12 or 13, can be considered sexual exploiters. Grooming Behaviors
Most child molesters are in a position of trust and are often able to undermine the child's ability to accurately perceive the behavior as abusive. Most molesters are also able to convince other adults that it never happened or that the child misunderstood.
Molesters abuse children they are sexually and emotionally attracted to, children they feel are vulnerable and needy, and children they feel that they can control and manipulate into keeping the abuse a secret.
Child molesters may lead up to the abuse by forming a friendship or paying special attention to the child, taking them places, buying them gifts or giving them extra support and encouragement. They may offer to "help out" with babysitting or transportation. They may exploit children who are neglected or verbally abused by their parents by positioning themselves as the one who is "nice" while the parents are "mean". If the child's relationship with the parents is basically sound, the offender may try to start conflicts within the family in order to alienate the child from the family.
Molesters also test and desensitize children by telling dirty jokes, talking about sexual things and engaging in non-sexual physical contact like back-rubs, wrestling, hugging and horseplay. This behavior generally starts long before the sexual touching starts and serves to normalize contact and trust. The increased physical relationship and intimate talk between the child and offender makes it easier for the offender to introduce sexual behavior into the relationship. If the child's parent has been present when some of the close physical contact or joking has occurred, it also makes the child think it must be ok.
Some offenders are so good at developing dependent relationships that their victims feel obligated and may even feel protective of the offender, especially when the offender is a parent, relative, admired family friend, teacher, coach or priest.Grooming the Child's Caretakers
Many molesters work just as hard to seduce and manipulate adults as they do children. They may work very hard to present themselves as a moral and upright person. They think about and plan lies and excuses to talk people out of reporting them to law enforcement if caught or suspected.HOW YOU CAN HELP PREVENT CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT
Interactions with and support from a caring and predictable adult can be a significant protective factor for children at risk of or experiencing abuse. You can:
Volunteer to be a foster parent.
Volunteer to rock, read to or provide activities for children in shelters.
Be a tutor or teach a child to read, use a computer, fix an engine, fish, dance, cook or to develop any other skill or ability.
Volunteer for an organization that helps families and children.
Mentor or be Big Brother/Big Sister for a child who may be at risk of being abused or neglected.
Coach a team, lead a youth group.
Be an aide in the local public school.
Educate yourself on the facts and causes of child abuse and neglect.
Take a parenting class. Invite another parent to join you.
Give support to a mother, father or caregiver experiencing stress.
Write letters to elected representatives in support of parent education and child abuse prevention.
Arrange for a speaker at your organization or workplace to help educate others and spread the word about child abuse and neglect and how to keep kids safe.
Volunteer to help with the annual Blue Ribbon Campaign and wear the Blue Ribbon -- especially during April (and year round) to show your support.
Donate money to groups or organizations that provide prevention, intervention or treatment to abused children.PREVENT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Talk openly with your children about sexual development, behavior and abuse. Include molestation or secret touching in a discussion of safety issues in general such as answering the phone, fires, injuries, getting lost.
Praise and give your child affection and develop the kind of relationship that would allow your child to come to you for help or support for any kind of problem they might need help with, for themselves or a friend.
Tell your children that touching other people's private parts is not ok for children to do or for adults to do with children. Tell them that you do not want them to do secret touching with other people but that you will not be mad at them if they tell you it has happened.
Instruct your children to tell you or another supportive adult if anyone touches or tries to see their private parts, tries to get them to touch or look at another person's private parts, shows them pictures of or tries to take pictures of their private parts, talks to them about sex, walks in on them in the bathroom, or does anything provocative that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Help your children understand that it is possible that they may know or meet someone with a touching problem who will try to make secret touching look accidental. Encourage your children to tell you even if it might have been an accident.
Tell your children that touching problems are wrong, like stealing or lying, and that the people who have those kinds of problems need special help.
Let your children know that molesters try to get children to keep the abuse a secret by giving them candy, money or special privileges or by making threats or making the children feel bad.
Help identify and encourage your children to have support people they can talk to at home, at school, in their extended family, neighborhood or church. Have them pick out three people and tell you who they are. Put the phone numbers next to your phone and let them know that, if for any reason, they cannot talk to you that they should call or go see one of these people.
Donít let young male children go into a menís public restroom by themselves.
Be cautious about who you allow to baby-sit or spend time alone with your children. Try to bathe and dress your children before you leave. Routinely quiz your children about what happens while you are gone. Ask questions like,"What did you do that was fun?" Was there anything that happened while I was gone that worried you or that I should know about? Donít always tell your children to mind the babysitter.
Get to know the people and homes where your children play.
Periodically check on your children, especially when they are playing with other kids in your home. If you know that one of your childrenís friends has been sexually abused, be more attentive to their playtime.
Know your neighbors.
Supervise all Internet activities closely. Consider subscribing to an ISP that screens for obscenity and pornography. Instruct your children to never give out their phone number, address or school name to anyone they meet over the Internet. Periodically, ask your children to see the kinds of chat room conversations that take place.
Demonstrate loving, respectful intimate relationships in your home. Children should not observe direct sexual contact or any type of pornography.
Be aware that forms of sexual play or experimentation are normal and developmentally appropriate in young children; but if your child engages in any type of sexually inappropriate behavior, especially with a younger, smaller or less mature child, get professional help right away. Try to overcome denial and defensiveness. If your child does have a problem that goes untreated, it may become worse and create many more problems for your child, family, school and community. This includes date rape or sexual assault between preteens and teenagers. Boys who sexually assault girls frequently grow up to molest their own children or engage in domestic violence.
If another child engages your child in sexually inappropriate behavior or talk, tell their parents what happened so that they can get help. If you do not think that the family is seeking professional help, contact your local child abuse hotline.NATIONAL STATISTICS ON CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 906,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2003. The rate of victimization for 2003 was 12.4 victims per 1,000 children - a rate that has remained fairly steady for the last few years but that represents a significant decrease from 1993, when the rate of abused and neglected children peaked at 15.3 per 1,000 children.
Among the victims in 2003, 60.9 percent experienced neglect, while 18.9 percent were physically abused, 9.9 percent suffered sexual abuse, 4.9 percent were emotionally or psychologically abused, and 2.3 percent suffered medical neglect. Some children suffered multiple types of abuse. An estimated 1,500 children died from abuse or neglect, 78.7 percent of whom were younger than 4 years old.
Child abuse and neglect is often discovered because of reports from mandated reporters. The definition and scope of mandated reporters in California can be found on the Web Site of the California Attorney General. Mandated Reporter training is offered periodically in Tulare County through the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council. While mandated reporters such as teachers, therapists, health care professionals, law enforcement personnel, and Child-care providers are required by law to report suspicions of abuse or neglect, anyone in Tulare County can report by calling 800-331-1585.
Of the estimated 2.9 million reports made to and screened by State Child Welfare Services (CWS) agencies in 2003, approximately 57 percent were made by mandated reporters. The other 43 percent were made by non-professionals, such as friends and neighbors. Of this total, 1.9 million were investigated. Approximately 30% of the reports included at least one child who was a victim of abuse or neglect. As a result of these investigations, services were provided to 57 percent of victims and 25 percent of non-victims. These included services provided to families in the home and, for 15 percent of victims, they included foster care (for children removed from the home).
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