Child Sexual Abuse: Education, Awareness & Action

Child sexual abuse is a devastating issue that affects numerous lives across the world. According to a report published in RAINN, it was found that over 57,329 children were victims of sexual abuse. The issue is even more disturbing in India where there is significant stigma surrounding sex.

Such topics are often ignored, thus fostering an environment where victims, especially male children are boxed into silence. Most adults in India are gleefully ignorant or do not want to confront the impact such stigma can have on child development.

As a fundraising platform that has hosted many initiatives tackling this issue, here at Let It Count we want to do our bit to spread awareness around this disturbing topic. With this article, we want to shed light on the various challenges young boys face in India.

We want to offer valuable insight into the minds of these children and what parents and adults can do to prevent their silent suffering. By the end of this article, we hope to foster an environment within families that encourages children, especially young boys to come forward with their stories of abuse.

The Epidemic of Silence

India has always been a conservative country with a deeply ingrained stigma around child sexual abuse. The lack of awareness, education, or even reporting on the matter is quite frankly baffling, considering how widespread the issue is. Way back in 2007, a report was published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The study reported that more than 53% of children interviewed had reported some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their family members. Despite this, only a fraction of child sexual abuse cases get reported.

The situation is even more troubling for young boys. According to the Teenagers and Sexual Violence infographic published by NSVRC, it was found that 1 in 6 boys face sexual abuse before they turn 18. If the study proves anything beyond a shadow of a doubt, then it is the fact that young boys are just as susceptible to sexual abuse as girls. Yet, you’ll find very little reporting on this matter in India.

The Harsh Reality of Male Victims of Sexual Abuse in India

In India, men are expected to behave in a certain way. They are expected to be strong and resilient. Any expression of vulnerability invites questions about their masculinity. As such, the reluctance of young male victims to come forward can be attributed to societal norms and expectations imposed upon them from a very young age.

The pressure to conform to their traditional gender norm makes it difficult for boys in India to speak up. The sense of fear and shame surrounding sexual abuse forces them into silence. Every year, countless young boys in the country choose to suffer in silence because of this regressive societal attitude.

What Indian Families Can Do to Break this Curse of Silence?

Sexual abuse can have a lasting impact on a child’s development. The trauma they experience can hinder their maturity, leaving them in a perpetual state of guilt, shame, and self-blame. Disturbed sleep patterns, unusual eating disorders, suicidal ideation, relationship problems, and anxiety can plague them for the rest of their lives.

Healing from abuse is hard. However, it is possible with strong family support. The responsibility to help a child deal with sexual abuse falls solely on the parents and other adults surrounding them.

Below are a few tips that families can follow to help a child deal with sexual abuse:

1. Open Communication

It is important to foster an environment within your family that promotes open communication on hot topics like consent, safety, personal boundaries, etc. Familiarize your child with the concept of good-touch and bad-touch. Open communication will encourage a child, especially young boys to report a situation concerning abuse without any fear of judgment.

2. Be Informed

As a parent, you need to take the time to educate yourself on child sexual abuse. Know what signs to look for. Educating yourself on the matter will prepare you to support your child more effectively.

3. Just Believe

When a child does come forward to confide in you, do not dismiss them. Believe and validate their feelings. Try to reassure them that whatever happened was in no way their fault. Shower them with the support they need. This will make them feel protected.

4. Seek Help from a Therapist

Most parents won’t be equipped with the insight to handle a case of child abuse properly. This is a job best left to counsellors, therapists, and support groups. They can provide your child with the emotional and psychological aid they need, given the circumstances.

5. Cut Off Contact with Abusers

In the report on child abuse published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, it was revealed that 50% of the children interviewed knew their abusers. Be quick to cut off all forms of contact between your child and the perpetrator of abuse. Waste no time in reporting the incident to concerned authorities.

6. Spreading Awareness

There are many educational workshops and initiatives out there that aim to spread awareness on the matter of child abuse or domestic violence and destroy the stigma surrounding them.

By participating in such workshops, you can become an example for other adults in your community to open their minds. You can advocate for the importance of age-appropriate sex education in schools.

7. Unconditional Victim Support

It is very common for conservative families to blame the victim for sexual abuse. Your focus as a responsible adult should be to provide the child with unconditional emotional support.

Redefining the Narrative Around Sexual Abuse

Destroying the repressed attitude towards child sexual abuse in India is going to be difficult. It is not happening overnight. A paradigm shift in how we talk about this issue is necessary to change society’s attitude. We’ll need to challenge the idea that boys remain stoic in the face of unimaginable trauma.

We must foster an environment that encourages young girls and boys to speak out. This is what we at Let It Count strive for. Over the past year, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with many NGOs in India that are hell-bent on spreading awareness on this topic.

We are actively supporting and putting a spotlight on causes that emphasize the unique challenges faced by young male victims of sexual abuse in India.

You too can join us in our mission to empower young voices, encourage families to take a stand, and embolden male victims into breaking their silence.

Visit our website to explore the causes we support.