Sue Scheff: Help stop the silence – Stop child sexual abuse

Take the time to be an educated parent, which leads to a prepared parent and a safer child.  If you are an educator, parent, guidance counselor, daycare provider or anyone that works with children, you must take time and learn more about the signs of sexual abuse within a child. Help stop the silence and be their voice.

Source: Stop the Silence

What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse (CSA) constitutes a broad range of behaviors occurring along a continuum from voyeurism to rape, and usually happens over an extended period of time. CSA is possible due to differences in power and control between the offender and the victim

How common is it?

CSA is occurring in pandemic proportions and causes grave physical and psychological trauma, along with social havoc. In the U.S., CSA affects one-third of girls and one-sixth of boys by the time they are 18 years old.* Many countries have not yet conducted the research to identify the extent of CSA, but, from the research available, we know that it is a worldwide pandemic and that prevalence rates have been identified as high as 60 percent in some places, and as low as 2 percent in others.

It is difficult to know the true extent of CSA; most CSA is never reported (due to shame, fear, stigma, and other factors). The information that does get reported can look quite different depending on who is reporting it—for example, whether recounted by a child to various authorities as opposed to by an adult who has found out as a result of trauma or pregnancy. Also, authorities often minimize or dismiss the abuse reported, blame the victim, and/or protect the abuser. Only one in 10 children in the U.S. actually let someone know that it has occurred. We also know that more than two-fifths of women and more than one-third of men who have been sexually abused never disclose the experience to anyone.

What are the consequences?

We all privately or publicly know survivors who have not only survived, but thrived; it has taken work for them to get there. CSA often has extremely severe consequences. They include:

Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other psychological problems
Anti-social behaviors
Decreased school performance and delinquency
Substance abuse
Teen pregnancy
Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
Homicide and suicide

Decades of research documents that adults who were sexually victimized as children have a higher likelihood of being negatively impacted in their adulthood by numerous types of psychological and physiological ailments and sociological pathologies, including post traumatic stress disorder, self-destructive and violent behaviors, and even chronic disease. CSA has been definitively implicated as a precursor to, and a part of, the commercial sexual exploitation of children. CSA costs the nation billions of dollars each year between medical and psychiatric treatment, social services, special education, and legal and judicial and incarceration costs.

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