Child Sexual Assault (CSA)

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Abstract

Child Sexual Assault (CSA) cases are increasing every day everywhere in the world. The changes in life styles, life philosophies, parenting styles and advancements is science and technology are contributing heavily towards the sexual exploitation of children. Modern parents do not have enough time to look after their children because of their increasing professional and social commitments. As a result of that children may not get enough tips or guidance from their parents about how to control or manage their sexual energy. Moreover, modern technologies are capable of provoking sexual feelings in the minds of children. Exploiters usually exploit such situations. Dress codes also contribute heavily to the spreading of CSA incidents.

A child who faced sexual exploitation may not develop properly. He may carry the feeling of his painful experience during childhood throughout his life. Such feelings may prevent him/her from concentrating more on his/her studies and other activities. It is quite possible that the victims in the case of CSA may become antisocial elements in future. CSA victims may develop a feeling of vengeance towards the society which presented them with the bad experience. As a result of that, they may lose faith in morality, values and ethics. CSA cases are not advisable for a civilized society. However, no country seems to be free from the evil effects of CSA. This paper discusses the reasons and consequences of child sexual assault cases.

Child Sexual Assault (CSA)

Sexual assault cases in general and child sexual assault cases in particular are growing day by day across the world. The term child sexual assault refers to a scenario in which child is misused for the sexual gratification by an adolescent or adult. Even though the victims of child sexual assault mostly are the girls, the numbers of boys who are facing such assaults are growing gradually in recent times. According to a study conducted by Myers et al (2002), sexual abuse rates in the world are somewhere between 36% and 51%. Most of the CSA victims may not reveal their experience to others. As a result of that the exploiters get more motivation for exploiting children sexually.

No country, irrespective of civilized or uncivilized, seems to be free from the evil effects of this antisocial problem. Even the most civilized country America is not free from child abuse incidents. A lot of reasons were cited for the increasing cases of child sexual assaults. However, problems in parenting seem to be the most significant reason which contributes towards child sexual abuse cases. Children during their developmental stages need adequate care from their parents to become good citizens of the country. However, many of the modern parents do not have enough time to give guidance to their children because of their increasing family, professional or social commitments. It should be noted that many of the children are forced to spend a majority of their time in day care centers during their infancy periods. When infants become school age children, many parents have the habit of keeping them in school hostels because of their over commitments in the workplaces or society. All these factors prevent children from getting adequate care and love during their developmental stages.

Why child sexual assault cases are growing?

Victim age is one of the most important factors which cause child sexual assault (CSA). According to Rogers et al (2016), most of the CSA victims are those close to or at puberty. During adolescence, sex hormones will be hyperactive in the bodies of the children. It is easy for the exploiters to exploit children during their adolescence because of the hyperactivity of the sex hormones. During adolescence, children are less mature enough to think about the consequences of their activities. They are more concerned about deriving pleasure out of their life during this stage. The increasing interest for pleasure seeking forces children to give consent for the sexual exploitation of their body by others.  According to Rogers et al (2011), there is no point in blaming children for sexual exploitation since many of the factors which force them for sexual activities may not be under their control. For example, puberty is a biological development which brings many biological changes in the bodies of children.

The arrival of new technologies and instruments such as computers, internet and mobile phones has caused significant roles in the spreading of CSA cases. It should be noted that these instruments help children to get access to sexual materials which can cause provocation in their mind. After watching a sex film, it is quite possible that a child gets increased interest for sexual activities. He/she may not be able to control his/her feelings and emotions. Adult exploiters know this very well. They exploit such situations very well.

The dress style of the victim is another contributing factor towards CSA. Modern dress styles of the children are extremely vulnerable. Modern dresses are capable of projecting the body shape more compared to the dresses in the past. For example, jeans and leggings, skirts and midi like clothing have the ability to reveal the body shape completely. According to Pollard, (1992), a victim’s clothing is extremely important in the case of CSA. He has pointed out that the exploiter makes some inferences from the dressing style of the victim before approaching the victim. Over 57% CSA exploiters believe that one can identify the character pretty well from her dress codes (Dull and Giacopassi, 1987). Another study conducted by Cassidy and Hurrell (1995) found that rape victims dressed in a provocative manner are more vulnerable compared to those dressed in conservative manner.

According to Galambos and Tilton-Weaver (2000), children can be classified into three groups: genuinely mature, immature, and pseudomature. Genuinely mature adolescents show their maturity in all their behaviors. They know how to segregate between the good and the evil. They know how to control their emotions and sexual feelings. They know how to dress decently and how to behave properly in a society. As a result of that exploitation of such children may not takes place very much. On the other hand, immature adolescents tend to display low levels of development and psychosocial maturity. As a result of that they are moderately vulnerable towards sexual exploitation. On the other hand, pseudomature adolescents are extremely vulnerable towards sexual exploitation because of their “don’t” care attitude. They take sexual matters as silly or simple. They usually express more problem behaviors compared to the other two groups (Tilton-Weaver et al., 2001).

Patriarchal societies need to take much blame for the increasing cases of CSA. In patriarchal societies, gender stereotyping is common. In fact, sexual victimization of women is actively endorsed by inherently patriarchal societies (Pollard, 1992). For example, in some Islamic countries, the wedding age of girls is as low as 15. In fact Saudi Arabia’s religious leader, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Asheikh, has said recently that “he does not plan to restrict the minimum age for marriage for women to 15 years, contravening a recent proposal from the country’s Ministry of Justice” (Staff writer, 2014, p.1). In other words, some of the religious leaders in Islamic community are not ready to accept even the proposal from the government to increase the minimum age for marriage for women. It should be noted that even 15 years of age is not a matured age for a marriage. Even a girl of 15 years of age may have insufficient knowledge about sex activities. Yet, religious leaders want to reduce the minimum age to below 15. Such an argument may cultivate a feeling among the people that girls are ready for sex activities even when they are below 15 years of age. At the age of 15, a girl may not complete even her school studies. However, patriarchal societies consider women education as a useless thing and they want to exploit women as well as girls for sexual activities alone. There is no point in expecting a reduced number of CSA cases in such societies.

Consequences of child sexual assault

According to Davies & Frawley (1994), the childhood sexual trauma is an etiological factor in later psychopathology. In other words, victims of child sexual abuse may face severe mental problems later in their life. The number of people, who are treated for mental disorders, is growing day by day. A substantial portion of mental disorders are caused by childhood trauma. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation during childhood would definitely create frustrations in the minds of the victim. Such frustrations and dejections may attain the proportion of mental disorders later in their life. Children, who were victimized, may develop an antisocial feeling and they may engage in antisocial activities later in their life. Since life experiences shape the personality and character of a child, bitter childhood experiences may cause immense harm to the development of the child in the right direction.

Many people have the illusion that children will not keep the memories of their childhood trauma. Quoting Freud’s development and later renunciation of the seduction theory, Davies & Frawley (1994) argued that hysterical neurosis can develop from early sexual seductions. Sigmund Freud after comprehensive studies pointed out that “hysteria and obsessional neurosis are caused by a repressed memory which is developed because of early childhood sexual abuse or molestation experience” (Davies & Frawley, 1994, p.2). In the case of adults, sexual experiences may strengthen their emotional and mental strengths; but in the case of children the above principle is not true. Children below a particular age develop pain rather than pleasure out of the sexual activities. It should not be forgotten that adults are better prepared and have good knowledge for enjoying sexual activities. However, children may not have such knowledge or maturity to enjoy sexual activities. As a result of that sexual assault may cause more harm than good to the children.

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Since most of the child sexual abuse cases occur in a secret environment, nobody will be aware of it until the child or the victim reveals it. However, the victims may not disclose such incidents because of their fear of the exploiter. Usually the exploiter threatens the child before abusing her/him. It should be noted that the offenders in child sexual abuse cases will be mostly the beloved ones from the family itself. Therefore, saying something against the offender may create problems to the victim in his/her family. In other words, the victimized child may grow just like other children, but in his/her inner minds, he/she will keep the black records of his/her childhood bitter experiences. According to Herman (1997, p.9) “To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms protecting the victim and that joins victim and witness in a common alliance”. However, in many of the patriarchal societies, the victims get more blame than the offender in CSA cases. The society usually blames the victim for his/her inability to protect his/her body from sexual exploitation. Even in developed societies, CSA victims struggle to get natural justices. As a result of that children who faced sexual abuse at an early age may develop more psychological and social problems than physical problems later in their lives. In many societies, sexually abused children are witnessed in a separate manner. It is difficult for such children to get a partner later during their life. Even though virginity is losing its importance in contemporary society, still many people secretly like to have virgins as their partners. As a result of that, sexually exploited girls may struggle get a decent companion later in their life.

Conclusion

Child sexual assault cases are growing everywhere in the world because of changes in life styles, life attitudes, life philosophies and the rapid advancements in science and technology. Children face sexual exploitation, not only in patriarchal societies but also in civilized societies as well. Many of the children all over the world are facing sexual abuse not from the society, but from their family itself. When a child gets a bitter experience from the family, he/she may try to hide it because of the fear of the offender.

CSA may cause huge problems to the development of the children as the good citizens of the country. Lot of psychological problems may develop in the minds of the victim which will later transform in to antisocial behaviors. It is necessary for a civilized society to take stern actions against the offenders. Moreover, the society and the government should take necessary actions to protect the children from sexual abuse. It is the duty of the society and the government to make sure that all the CSA offenders get proper punishments for the crime committed by them.

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  1. Cassidy, L., & Hurrell, R. (1995). The influence of victim’s attire on adolescents’ judgments of date rape. Adolescence, 30(118), 319–323.
  2. Davies, J.M. & Frawley, M.G.(1994). Treating Adult survivors of child Sexual abuse. Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (March 21, 1994)
  3. Dull, R., & Giacopassi, D. J. (1987). Demographic correlates of sexual and dating attitudes: A study of date rape. Criminal Justice & Behavior, 14(2), 175–193.
  4. Galambos, N. L., & Tilton-Weaver, L. C. (2000). Adolescents’ psychosocial maturity, problem behavior, and subjective age: In search of the adultoid. Applied Developmental Science,4(4), 178–192.
  5. Herman, J. (1997). Trauma and Recovery. Publisher: Basic Books; 14th printing edition (May 30, 1997)
  6. Myers, J.E.B.,  Berliner, L., Briere, J., Hendrix, C.T., Reid, T & Jenny, C. (2002).  The APSAC handbook  on child maltreatment, 2nd Edition.  Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications
  7. Pollard, P. (1992). Judgements about victims and attackers in depicted rapes: A review. British
  8. Journal of Social Psychology, 31(4), 307–326.
  9. Rogers, P., Loweb, M., & and Reddingtonc, K. (2016). Investigating the Victim Pseudomaturity Effect: How a Victim’s Chronological Age and Dress Style Influences Attributions in a Depicted Case of Child Sexual Assault. Journal Of Child Sexual Abuse 2016, Vol. 25 (1), 1–19
  10. Rogers, P., McCarrick, L., & Lowe, M., (2015). Examining the importance of a victim’s age inappropriate behaviour on public perceptions of adolescent sexual assault (unpublished manuscript). School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.
  11. Staff writer (2014). No minimum age for marriage of girls – Grand Mufti. Arabian Business. Mon 22 Dec 2014
  12. Tilton-Weaver, L. C., Vitunski, E. T., & Galambos, N. L. (2001). Five images of maturity in adolescence: What does ‘grown up’ mean? Journal of Adolescence, 24(2), 143–158
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