Child sexual abuse: how to prevent and detect it

Talking about child sexual abuse is not easy. But it is urgent to sensitize the population on this extremely important and necessary issue in order to protect the rights and health of children. In Spain 25% of children have been victims of child abuse by their caregivers (Save the Children, 2019) and in Europe one in five is a victim of sexual violence (Council of Europe, 2014). All these figures are unknown by the general population.

For all this, the Official College of Psychology of Madrid, through its Working Group on Child Abuse and Abuse, organized last Thursday the 1st Conference “Advances and new challenges in child sexual abuse and abuse”, in which they participated Among others, Alejandra Pascual Franch, General Coordinator of the Federation of Associations for the prevention of child maltreatment (FAPMI) and Félix López Sánchez, Professor of Psychology of Sexuality at the University of Salamanca.

In the framework of the prevention of child maltreatment and sexual abuse, Alejandra Pascual recalled the campaign ” The Rule of Kiko “, consisting of a set of awareness materials aimed at parents , mothers, families and caregivers so that they can explain to children and girls where other people cannot try to touch them, how to react and who to turn to for help.

“Kiko’s Rule” is simple: Children should not allow other children or adults to touch parts of their bodies that are often covered by their underwear. And they should not touch other children and / or adults in those areas. It also helps explain to children that their bodies belong to them, that there are good and bad secrets, and good and bad ways of playing.

” It is about empowering them, ” Alejandra Pascual recalled. “Children are not responsible for their own protection but they must be given tools so that they can ask for help and not remain silent”, since with minors there is an “abuse of power in which silence and guilt”.

In total there are five important aspects that are worked on in the educational units of this campaign:

  1. Your body is yours: teach children that their body belongs to them and that no one can touch them without their permission.
  2. Good way of playing – bad way of playing: it is taught that it is not okay for someone to look at or touch their private parts or to be asked to look at or touch another person’s private parts
  3. Good secrets – bad secrets: the sexual abuser gains the trust of children, so it is vital to teach them the difference between good and bad secrets, and create a climate of trust.
  4. Learn to ask for help: minors cannot defend themselves but they can ask for help. So they are taught to identify reference adults.
  5. Let’s talk to mom and dad

Kiko also has her own story , also available online, for all those interested.

Another of the prevention initiatives is ” Make it Safe “, which addresses, on the one hand, the safe and responsible use of ICT by minors and adolescents in educational centers, and, on the other, It aims to extend the good use of ICT to parents, and to the rest of the members of the educational community.

How to spot abuse

“We must not lose sight of online sexual violence that is very difficult to detect,” Pascual recalled. “On the internet one acts differently and children think they interact with a peer” (” grooming “).

« I think that in sexuality we have gone from repression to freedom without education . So its effects, “said Félix López Sánchez, Professor of Psychology of Sexuality at the University of Salamanca, during his speech. According to the expert, although the detection of child sexual abuse has been greatly improved, there is still a long way to go.

“There continues to be low detection and reporting. Between incidence and prevalence there is a chasm. There is a lot of alarm but little effectiveness, “said the expert, who insisted on the need to stay away from topics and” sexophobia. ”

“You have to talk, ” insisted López Sánchez. «The child must be educated and protected. And it so happens that what cannot be named is what has more names, “he recalled, referring to the lack of explanations that children lack when naming, for example, the sexual organs.

For this reason, the professor advocates a new approach, giving sex education a “good treatment” that includes child sexuality and “avoiding the bad abuses of liberty and sexual and loving ethics.”

It is urgent to do so because, in fact, “in adolescents sexual abuse is increasing a lot and it is increasing by adolescents themselves . There is a serious problem, “he assured.

But there is another factor that is beginning to show: women are beginning to be aggressors. “The woman is incorporated because freedom has come to the woman. But freedom must be accompanied by ethics, “he stressed.

For the expert, prevention is essential to prevent abuse and “depends on prevention that happens only once.” According to López Sánchez, “it is key that the first abuse be reported or detected to stop whoever commits it .”

To do this, you have to get the victim to count it. “The person attacked must know that he is not guilty and must be told that this secret cannot be kept. You have to find out who to go to and how. In most cases, minors who have been sexually abused have told a friend who has kept them secret.

Family, educators, pediatricians, family doctors, coroners, psychologists, etc. they must also be alert to ” sudden and inexplicable changes in the child . If you don’t want to go to school now, it’s for a reason. If before I went out to play and no longer, it is that something happens, “he recalled, because if the child does not give explanations and the adults do not find them, it is that something happens. Look at the child’s face. Take a good look at it because the face of a minor does not conceal a very dangerous experience. ”


by Abdullah Sam
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