Myth 1: Only strangers abuse children sexually
Fact: Danger from strangers is only a small part of the problem. Research evidence world over indicates that in a majority of cases, (up to 85%) the child’s relatives, family, friends or someone known and trusted by the child is involved
Myth 2: Both women and men sexually abuse children
Fact: An overwhelming majority of those who sexually abuse children is men although women are the ones who spend most time with children. Only a small minority of women report to have abused children.
Myth 3: Child sexual abuse happens only in poor or problem families
Fact: Child sexual abuse cuts across classes, caste, religious and educational barriers and occurs irrespective of what the background of the abuser and the child is.
Myth 4: When children say they have been abused, it is often a figment of their imagination.
Fact: Most times, children are unable to disclose or talk about abuse. In rare instances, when they do talk, it is not their imagination or fantasy but very real; children need to be believed and supported if they talk about any sexual touching or if they express any reservations about interacting with particular adults.
Myth 5: Only attractive or sexually precocious children are abused.
Fact: All children, irrespective of their age, color, family background, sexual knowledge are vulnerable to abuse. They are perceived as easy targets because of the power the abuser has and the inability of children to speak up or stop abuse.
Myth 6: Child Sexual Abuse can never happen in one’s home.
Fact: Almost 30-50% children are abused by persons known to them; relatives, family friends, neighbors, drivers, watchmen, doctors, religious leaders. Such abuse often takes place in one’s home which is considered a safe haven. The abuser enjoys the trust of the family members and has easy access to the child. As responsible adults who want to care for and protect our children to be alert, aware and stop child sexual abuse.
Contributed by: Dr Shubhada Maitra