CHAPTER 3 PREVENTION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
There is no silver bullet to solving this problem. This is going to require a sustained effort over a long period of time and we will not stop until we’ve seen this scourge eliminated.
Barack Obama, President of the United States, May 16, 2014.
Source: (Report to the President of the United States on SAPR, 2014:11)
Child sexual abuse is a problem with far reaching implications for child victims, their families, communities and societies. Child sexual abuse is a serious worldwide social, public health and human rights concern, because it causes enormous damage to the child’s overall development (Hunt and Walsh, 2011:63; Kisanga, 2012; Gwirayi, 2010:253). Child sexual abuse is a significant challenge facing many nations. For the first time in history, sexual abuse of children has become a part of the national conversation and collective awareness and desire for action have emerged. President Barak Obama of the United States of America for example, stressed that there is a need for nations to take deliberate and meaningful actions to stop the scourge as reflected in the quote above. All children deserve childhoods free from all kinds of abuse. Without concern for the safety of children the future of society is at risk. Article 3 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNUDHR, 1989) stipulates that:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (www.eycb.coe.int/compasito/chapter_6/pdf/1.pdf). Article 19 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by world leaders (CRC, 1989) states that:
“ State parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse…neglect, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s) or any other person who has care of the child”
The effects of child sexual abuse are very costly both economically and psychologically. (Bowlus, Mckenna, Day and Wright, 2003:1). In order to prevent sexual abuse of children, proactive measures are required for safeguarding children’s rights. People such as social workers, educators, police and other adults should have information on the most vulnerable children in society in order to help keep children safe. Being able to identify children who need help could assist in preventing child sexual abuse. Vulnerable children are unable to protect themselves. They are dependent on others for sustenance and protection. They need to be protected. The sexual abuse risks faced by vulnerable children need to be reduced. In order for stakeholders in institutions to fight against sexual abuse they need to be aware of the various ways that have been used in the past to prevent child sexual abuse. Being aware of prevention measures used in the past to curb child sexual abuse helps improve on current ways of prevention.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF PREVENTION INTERVENTIONS
No ancient civilisation considered child protection to be a function of the government. In ancient Rome, for instance, fathers were vested with an almost unlimited natural right to determine the welfare of their children (http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1828/Child-Protective-Services.html). The welfare of minors was a family matter not a governmental interest or obligation.
Tabachnick and Klein (2011: 8-11) provide the following historical background of previous efforts in the prevention of child sexual abuse. Before the 1970s child sexual abuse was largely ignored. Few resources were allocated to preventing abuse. Isolated cases may have been mentioned in the news; however, widespread societal attention was not focused on the problem. At the beginning of the 1970s and 1980s, adult survivors of child sexual abuse began telling their stories. Through the emergence of these personal accounts, it became clearer and later confirmed by research, that child sexual abuse was being perpetuated within every community, and race (Tabachnick and Klein, 2011:8-11). People began to look for ways to protect children from child sexual abuse.
Clinical approaches working with victims for instance in the United States of America, began to change in the mid-1890s, but not in a helpful manner. Children were labelled as instigators of sexual abuse. Freud’s work revealed patient confessions of childhood sexual experiences with trusted adults, relatives and even fathers (Burhardt and Rotatori, 2013:18). Freud proposed his seduction theory which maintained that these incidents of childhood sexual experiences at the hands of significant adults were instrumental in the development of subsequent psychoneuroses. Freud later reversed his position and maintained that the reported sexual incidents were products of female fantasies fuelled by id impulses residing within the child.
Fortunately, Freudian theories of children as the seducers of adults were challenged by professionals such as Judith Herman. According to Bolen (2003:174) awareness of child sexual abuse was largely the result of writings by Judith Herman (1981) who believed that child sexual abuse was symptomatic of a patriarchal society in which men had power over women and girls. One effect of this literature was to bring the problem of child sexual abuse to public awareness. Herman wrote the first popular or popularised book about the problem of father-daughter incest. Incest according to Herman (2003: viii) is the most extreme form of child sexual abuse. Female children are regularly subjected to sexual abuse by adult males who are part of their intimate social world such as family, friends, uncles, cousins, stepfathers, and fathers. The book was written to help incest victims alleviate feelings of isolation and shame. It was also written for professionals in the area of mental health, child protective services, and law enforcement who regularly encounter cases of father–daughter incest. Herman (2003: viii) point out that any serious investigation of the emotional and sexual lives of victims of incest, leads eventually to the discovery of the incest secret. This means that if thorough investigations are made when a child has been sexually abused then the perpetrator can be found and brought to book.
Thompson and Wilkinson (2010:13) state that prior to 1974 there were no child abuse reporting laws in many countries. In Australia legislation was first enacted in 1972 and in Canada, provinces introduced reporting legislation from the 1960s (http://eprints.qut.edu.au). In 1961, during the American Academy of Paediatrics Conference on child abuse, the first model law was drafted. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act or CAPTA (Public Law 93-247) was passed on January 31, 1974. Its passage established a National Centre on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN). The National Centre on Child Abuse and Neglect provided money to different countries for identification, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and established a minimal definition of child abuse and neglect. Acts or failures to act that placed children at immediate risk of serious harm such as emotional harm, as well as all kinds of sexual abuse were classified as abuse and neglect. Tabachnick and Klein (2011:8-11) point out that in the 1990s-2000s legislators in the United States of America initiated new laws such as the 1994 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to teach children how to protect themselves from sexual abuse. The awareness that had resulted from the survivor stories of the 1970s-1980s grew into daily media coverage of child sexual abuse. Television dramas and best-selling books utilised sexual abuse story lines. Sensational news coverage of rare, horrific child abductions and sexual abuse shocked the public. Bolen (2003:174) also notes that in the 1980s high profile cases, especially in day centres, started to be sensationalised in the media and professional literature on the problem of child sexual abuse also began to expand, contributing further support for a sense of urgency.
Research also indicates that both adolescents and children are open to behaviour change (Tabachnick and Klein, 2011:11). This means that the earlier the intervention, the greater the chance that a child or teenager will live a healthy or productive life. More recently, there is widespread access to the information necessary for a more realistic and holistic understanding of the problem of child sexual abuse. Many studies are being carried out to clearly understand how this problem can be dealt with.
PREVENTION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Child sexual abuse is an internationally recognised problem (Thompson and Wilkinson, 2010:46). The authorities from local and national to regional and global levels are responsible for protecting children against all forms of child abuse (Antonowicz, 2010:40; Save Children, 2005:85). Following research evidence regarding the devastating consequences of child sexual abuse, many countries have been and continue to grapple with various prevention programmes. Hunt and Walsh (201:64) assert that strengthening and sustaining human capacity to prevent child sexual abuse can be conceptualised as a process of reducing risk factors and building protective factors in potential perpetrators and victims, their families and communities by making them aware of the effects of the abuse on the affected.
Combating sexual violence requires a comprehensive, systematic and analytical approach that takes cognisance of the contextual situations that cause child sexual abuse (Ruto, 2009:189-190). Any plans, strategies or interventions divorced from the socio-cultural milieu will not have sustained impact. The comprehensive approach would be multi-focused, reaching victims, the perpetrators as well as interrogating specific practices evident in many institutions that are not protective of children. Interest in the prevention of child sexual abuse has culminated in a diversity of initiatives implemented internationally, regionally, and nationally (Finkelhor, 2009:172).
The model by Antonowicz illustrated in Figure 2.1 Section 2.3 characterises a human system almost similar to Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory with the levels, microsystem (child), mesosystem (school, local community), exosystem (wider community), and macrosystem (whole social system). The figure illustrates that every part of the system contributes to sexual abuse. Based on the same model, prevention of sexual abuse as echoed by Antonowicz (2010:40) can take place at international, national, societal, family, school and individual level. Child sexual abuse is the result of a combination of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors all of which need to be addressed to effectively prevent the vice. A comprehensive prevention approach would target all people, children, the youth, parents, professionals and the public in an array of settings including schools, early childhood centres, homes and communities, as well as on the national and international arena
On this level, it is mostly legal input that can help to prevent abuse. Laws are the brick and mortar of all efforts aimed at the realisation of children’s rights. According to Finkelhor (2009:173) laws are believed to have primary prevention effects, because the fear of swift, certain, and serious punishment by the justice system may deter the abuse before it happens. Hundreds of children over the world live on streets, and are abused on a daily basis and often do not have the most fundamental rights. Strong laws, together with effective reinforcement procedures which are child sensitive, are of crucial importance in protecting children from all forms of child sexual abuse (Beaulieu, 2008:9).
To protect the rights of children, The United Nations in 1989 adopted a historic agreement: The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights for children (Blanchfield, 2013. Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international human rights treaty created with the goal of realising all rights of children everywhere in the world. It is recognised by world leaders that children have human rights and people under 18 years of age often need special care and protection (http://www.netoosh.org.au). A child is defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as every human being below the age of 18 years, unless the laws of a particular country set a legal age for adulthood younger.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified and accepted by virtually all countries except Somalia and the United States of America (http://www.education.gov.uk). The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 was intended to bind people in every country, every culture and every religion to work in order to ensure that all the world’s children enjoy the rights they deserve: rights to survival; health education; to a caring family environment; to play and culture; to protection from abuse of all kinds including sexual abuse and to have their voices heard and opinions taken into account on issues affecting their lives (http://www.un.org).
Kibaru-Mbae (2011:77-78) points out that the rights of children are protected by international treaties. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first binding international instrument to set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children in the entire world. Articles 34 and 35 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child directly obligate countries to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation, child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking. These articles constitute the cornerstone of international legal protection of children against sexual abuse.
Article 34 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989) states that ‘State parties must undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and take all the necessary national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
i) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
ii) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices; and
Iii) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.’
According to Clarhall (2011:3) an internationally elected body of independent experts sits in Geneva to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by State Parties to the Convention. Each state party is required to submit reports to the UN committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on how it is fulfilling its obligations. Where necessary, the committee calls for international assistance from other governments and technical assistance from organisations like the United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF).
In addition to the international treaties and mechanisms, there are also mechanisms promoting and protecting human rights (including children’s rights) at regional level in the different continents.
The United Nations has divided the world countries into regions. As an example, Southern Africa is a region in Africa comprising of the countries highlighted on the map in Figure 3.1.
The countries on the map comprise regional communities in Southern Africa, committed to regional integration to protect human rights including children’s rights. Regional human rights are relatively independently coherent human rights that are nested within the larger framework of international human rights practice (Australian Development Agency, 2010:10). The United Nations has encouraged the development of regional human rights treaties. Three Regional human rights instruments can be identified as the European Convention on Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human Rights (Australian Development Agency, 2010:10; Beaulieu, 2008:25).
The regional human right mechanisms offer many advantages. According to Peterson (2011:184) countries within the same region often share similar cultural traditions and political histories as such governments may find it easier to reach consensus on the content of rights and to endow a regional court with meaningful enforcement powers. These human rights bodies provide avenues for recourse against countries that fail to meet their obligations under human rights treaties. Within the broad framework of regional human rights, regional conventions addressing child sexual abuse has also been developed (Australian Development Agency, 2010: 10).
The Council of Europe (CoE) which was founded in 1949 is the most highly evolved and effective human rights system which initially consisted of Western European countries. Its membership has expanded since then to include countries that were formally part of the Soviet Union like; Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Moldova, Kyrgzstan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan (Petersen, 2011:184; Australian Development Agency, 2010: 11). The Council of Europe, for example, developed the Convention of the Protection of Children against sexual abuse in a bid to prevent and combat sexual abuse and promote collaboration in prevention.
The Organisation of American States comprises all states of the American hemisphere with the exception of Cuba. The most important treaty for the Americans is the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) of 1969, which, like its European precedent, has its own Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose (Australian Development Agency, 2010:12).
According to the Australian Development Agency (2010:12) the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in 1963 and was transformed into the African Union (AU) in 2002, modelled on the European Union. All African States belong to it, except Morocco. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACC) is the first African regional treaty on children’s rights. It is modelled on the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child calls for protection against abuse and maltreatment, negative social and cultural practices and all forms of sexual abuse including involvement of children in prostitution and pornography.
Article 16 of the African Charter (AU) contains declarations of protection of children against abuse, similar to article 19 of the Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRC). Other relevant international treaties which also provide for the protection of children from various forms of sexual abuse at regional level include the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action and The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (WHO, 2012:80).
According to Mugambi and Morara (2012:v) countries in Africa are faced with many challenges that predispose children to child sexual abuse and in view of this, the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) organised and held the First International Conference on child sexual abuse in Africa in September 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya. Four years after the Nairobi Conference, some efforts had been made in research on child sexual abuse and in strengthening child protection systems. However, child sexual abuse was and is still rampant and this led the ANPPCAN to organise and hold the Second International Conference on child sexual abuse in Accra, Ghana on 12-14 March, 2012. The main objectives of the conference were to assess the progress made so far in various African countries on the issue of child sexual abuse, identify pertinent issues that hinder or enhance responses to child sexual abuse in Africa and provide a forum for learning responses on child sexual abuse globally (Mugambi and Morara, 2012:v). Some of the main highlights of the conference were that sustained efforts have been made and are being made on research, education, and advocacy work on child sexual abuse in a number of African countries; that child sexual abuse in Africa was still shrouded in a conspiracy of silence, and it was observed that financial and human resources allocated to fighting child sexual abuse by African governments were inadequate.
Regional child protection instruments as noted from the above discussion have an important role to play in preventing child sexual abuse. As alluded to by Mugambi and Morara (2012: iv) protection instruments are also found at national level.
Table of Contents
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION, PROBLEM AND ITS CONTEXT
1.3 MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
1.4 A PREVIEW OF LITERATURE
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.6. MAIN RESEARCH QUESTION
1.7 GENERAL AND SPECIFIC AIMS OF THE STUDY
1.8 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.10 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.11 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
1.12 ORGANISATION OF CHAPTERS
CHAPTER 2 UNDERSTANDING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
2.2 MEANING OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
2.3 SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
2.4 FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
2.6 CHILD SEXUAL ABUSERS
2.7 IMPACT OF SEXUAL ABUSE ON CHILD VICTIMS
2.8 DISCLOSURE OR NON- DISCLOSURE
PREVENTION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
3.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF PREVENTION INTERVENTIONS
3.3 PREVENTION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.2 THE PROBLEM STATEMENT
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND PARADIGM.
4.4 DATA COLLECTION
4.5 DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION
4.6 MEASURES OF TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.7 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4. 8 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 DATA ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
5.2 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 SYNTHESIS OF FINDINGS
6.3 POSSIBLE PREVENTATIVE GUIDELINES FOR VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS
6.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
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