Before we can stop this horrible crime we must change the way we perceive it. Child sexual abuse is preventable, but only if we protect our children.
Arlether Wilson is a Child Abuse Investigator and Victims Advocate, who has been providing support to hundreds of children in the Houston area for more than a decade. She is also a police officer whose educational and professional background includes experience in child abuse prevention, domestic violence, victim advocacy and special needs youth in the Texas Justice System.
As a Victims Advocate, Arlether provides information to survivors and parents of children who have been sexually abused. Her primary goal is to aid them in better coping with their crisis. In addition, she has developed a website that includes a special section with valuable resources to assist those in need.
Section 25.02 of the Texas Penal Code states: An individual commits an offense if he engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a person he knows to be, without regard to legitimacy.
WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE?
Sexual abuse has many possible definitions. However, in its more simplified state it is any involvement with a child in sexual acts. Sexual abuse is not limited to intercourse. It involves, but is not limited to fondling, exposing a child to pornographic material, forcing a child to touch genitalia, or even masturbating in the presence of a child. Regardless of how mature a child may appear children are too immature to comprehend or provide consent for sexual activities. Furthermore, the repercussions of such abuse can be devastating and may further interfere with a childs overall physical and emotional development. Some children become passive or withdrawn, while others may runaway or become suicidal, truant, or aggressive. These are the types of changes that parents usually identify very easily. Of course, most of the above factors occur at different stages in a childs development and are not limited to what has been previously written above. Please be mindful that a child who has been victimized by sexual abuse needs support and understanding to deal with their trauma. SO PLEASE BE PATIENT.
Before we can stop this horrible crime we must change the way we perceive it. Child sexual abuse is preventable, but only if we protect our children. It is a subject that society prefers not to discuss, nonetheless little attention is devoted to this horrendous crime and more children are being victimized. Many times people view sexual predators as Creepy Old Men. Unfortunately, this is usually a misconception. Sexual predators come in many sizes, shapes, nationalities, and genders. The predator could be your next door neighbor, a relative, a best friend, a teacher, a minister or a number of other unsuspecting professionals.
Statistics indicate that more than 30% of victims are sexually abused by a family member. Another 40% are sexually abused by a family friend or someone they know outside the home. In essence, this means only a small percentage of children are sexually abused by people with whom they are unfamiliar.
My purpose is to broaden your perspective as it relates to identifying these types of criminals. Always remember that sexual predators carefully plan their actions prior to attacking their victim. And although the act of sexual abuse is not impulsive, it is the mindset in which the perpetrator works to achieve. We may not be able to prevent every incident, but we can do a better job of educating our communities.
Parents talk to your children! Many parents are afraid to discuss these issues with their children. But it is your responsibility to educate your children about such dangers. Teach your children how to detect inappropriate touching. You are not alone because there are several age appropriate programs available to assist you.
A very good starting point would be Darkness to Lights Seven Steps to Protecting Our Children at: http://www.darkness2light.org/7Steps/7steps.asp.
Author of "Rewriting the Script"