Shattering the Stigma: Promoting Awareness and Understanding of Child Sexual Abuse
Over the years, child sexual abuse has become a common problem. Today, you can find cases of abuse against children in all societies, affecting their physical and mental health. In fact, child sexual abuse has become a challenge for public health, social justice, human rights and gender equality, worldwide. While international communities and governments have recognized the importance of making policies to prevent, identify and respond to this abuse appropriately, the sad truth is that it still prevails. So, what is the reason behind the constant increase in this problem and how can we overcome it?
What is Stigma?
Perhaps, the biggest reason for the prevalence of child sexual abuse is the stigma that surrounds it. ‘Stigma’ is when a person or a group of people assign a negative connotation onto another person or group of people, based on a set of beliefs, perspectives, or biases. The stigma attached to child sexual abuse often makes the reporting of it extremely difficult.
No matter where a person is in their healing journey, people’s attitude and ignorance can still be painful. It can be seen in-person or on social media and public conversations and lead to outdated and misguided perceptions or cultural myths. For instance, ‘she was asking for it’, ‘boys can’t be sexually abused’ and other problematic myths often create a ripple effect that usually justify abuse and downplay toxic and aggressive behaviors.
The only way to cater to this stigma is by creating awareness at an individual and societal level. This means making efforts to aware people on what child sexual abuse is, who experiences it at what age, its criminality and other legal consequences, how a child feels when and after being victimized and its long –term serious consequences.
So, here are a few steps that can be taken to promote awareness:
Engaging With Overlooked Children
Start off by taking a strategic approach. Engage with the population of children who are often overlooked and are most likely to get sexually exploited. These include children in care services and the ones who are often required to leave these service due to change in placements. Children who are excluded from schools should also be looked after by authorities and schools should cross-refer their absence information. Most important, authorities should be responsible for homeless children and make sure that they are safe.
Directing Measures towards Parents and Caregivers
To promote awareness about child sexual abuse and ensure appropriate responses after an infliction, it is important that awareness raising and preventative measures are directed towards parents and caregivers. This will allow them to respond to disclosures with empathy, take the right action and develop a necessary culture to minimize perpetration.
The best way to understand the trauma of child sexual abuse and create awareness about it, is engaging in conversations with the survivors and children, in general. From an early age, let your children know that they can come to you about anything, no matter what anyone else says. Remember, abuse is hard for children to comprehend, let alone talk about it, hence make sure you create an environment where there is no fear, shame and embarrassment.
If you want to help spread awareness about child sexual abuse, it is important that you shatter the stigma attached to it. Start with the people around you and gradually move towards creating conversations on a greater level.
If you need professional help, get in touch with Sanaa’s Stars; a charitable organization with a mission to combat child sexual abuse. Their team of professionals works tirelessly to create awareness and make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable children.