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Child sexual abuse - Combat the society of this menace

BY: NEELAM HASHIM

Child sexual abuse and exploitation is a sensitive and serious violation of child rights, as we all know that it is becoming one of the booming social issues.

Child abuse is widespread and can occur in any cultural, ethnic, and income group. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual harm. It can likewise result from carelessness too. While child abuse is often in the form of an action, there are also examples of inaction that cause harm such as neglect. There are multiple causes; some households that suffer from alcoholism/ substance abuse and anger issues have higher occurrences of child abuse as compared to households without.

Outcomes of child abuse can result in both short and long term injury, or even death. There are some children who may be unaware that they are victims of child abuse. Physical abuse involves non-accidental harming of a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking their bones. Verbal abuse involves threatening to harm or actually harming a child by, for example, belittling them, or threatening physical or sexual acts.

According to a UNICEF-funded study on “The State of Children in Pakistan” by the Children’s Complaints Office (CCO), Islamabad, existing laws suffer from weak implementation. The criminal justice system is also not child-friendly. There is a lack of knowledge and data on the prevalence of abuse and neglect, as a whole, especially when it occurs within the family. The study revealed that child sexual abuse is normally shrouded in secrecy. The available evidence shows that it is mostly acquaintances that abuse children, and exploit their trust. Victims are both girls and boys.

In most cases, children who are abused or neglected suffer greater emotional than physical damage. A child who has been abused or otherwise severely mistreated may become depressed or develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away, or abuse others. The younger the child is and the closer the child’s relationship to the abuser, the more serious the emotional damage will be.

If you suspect a child has been abused, contact a pediatrician or a local child protective agency for help. Physicians are legally obligated to report all suspected cases of abuse or neglect to authorities. They can also recommend a therapist and provide the necessary information for investigators. Doctors may also testify in court to obtain legal protection for the child or to help criminally prosecute an individual suspected of engaging in child sexual abuse.

A complete physical exam must always be performed, so that the examiner can look for any signs of physical and sexual abuse. The two forms of abuse may coexist. The longer the abuse continues, the less likely the child will make a full recovery.

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