What is child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse (CSA) takes place when a person initiates any kind of sexual act (physical, verbal, visual or online), or a seemingly-non-sexual act with intentions of sexual gratification, against a child.
CSA can be distinguished as
- sexual acts as those involving penetration, abusive sexual contact as intentional touching with no penetration, and noncontact sexual abuse such as
- exposing a child to sexual activity, taking sexual photographs or videos of a child, sexual harassment, prostitution, or trafficking
What is grooming?
Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse
Grooming occurs in phases.
The first phase is targeting – choosing a child/ren depending on access and opportunity. The choice of children depends on the perpetrator.
Recruiting the child is the next phase. This also requires access and opportunity. It often involves influencing alone time with the child, and giving them special treatment – gifts, attention etc.
Maintenance is the next phase. The perpetrator/s needs to ensure that the child keeps the secret. This keeps the child the victim. This plays on the child’s dependency needs. It also uses force and manipulation to make the child believe they are responsible and have chosen their abuse themselves.
They may also be further threatened to maintain their secrecy. Over time fear and feeling responsible (shame) mean ongoing secrecy.
If the abuser/s is also the primary person/s in a child’s life AND also provides good things, the child comes to believe that they are responsible for the abuse and ends up protecting their secret.
How prevalent in child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka?
According to the statistics tabled by the Chief Government Whip, 11,889 incidents of rape, 4806 incidents of serious sexual abuse and 5,891 cases of child abuse were reported in Sri Lanka between 2012 and 2020.
What are the effects of child sexual abuse?
The impact of child sexual abuse largely affects not only the personality of the victims,but also their mental health. The post-traumatic stress largely affects their development as it is stunted by the social barriers they put up.
The effects of this trauma prop up only much later in their life. This affects not only their personal and family life, but it could create a ripple effect to the country in many ways such as these victims may later become victims of suicide and trafficking, or even grow up with grave insecurities and become skeptical about society itself.
Given such high prevalance of the grave issue of child sexual abuse, it is imperative that it is addressed, and that a dialogue is created, in order to protect the innocence of every little child.
Our awareness programs
Concrete Angels carries out its awareness programs, the focus groups for which include parents, teachers, but most often it seeks to directly address children, in either the school environment, or communal groups such as in their localities or Sunday schools etc.
The need for such programs, although would appear to be taboo due to the cultural stigma in Sri Lanka are nevertheless essential, given the prevalence of cases in the country. Through such programs, the children are able to identify potentially abusive situations, defy such advances and approaches as well as report them. Further, they are also taught in advance, that they are not to be blame for any actions of a perpetrator.
The importance of directly addressing children is the need of such a narrative to be open, as prevention is better than cure. Evidently, as it is the ignorance and naivety that subjects children to sexual violence by a perpetrator, such a program would educate them well in advance.
While it is important to address adults about this is equally, or more important to address the children directly which would play a vital role in preventing child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka.