Myths & Facts

Know the myths and facts about child sexual abuse.

Debunking Myths About Child Sexual Abuse

Myth: It only happens to someone else’s child.
Reality: Victims can come from any socio-economic class, sex, or religion.

Myth: Sexual abusers are dangerous, weird, or evil-looking strangers.
Reality: Most offenders are known to their victims (i.e. friends, relatives, neighbours, teachers etc.)

Myth: Child sexual abuse usually involves violence.
Reality: Violence is seldom used. Most offenders rely on bribery and threats rather than force, or convince the child that no one will believe her. Children are often taught to obey figures of authority (adults) without questioning and thus become innocent victim of sexual abuse.

Myth: Children lie about sexual abuse or imagine it happened.
Reality: It is extremely rare for a child to lie about such things. More often, a child may withdraw or minimize a previous disclosure out of panic, discomfort, or family pressure.

Myth: Child molesters are usually homosexuals.
Reality: The vast majority of molesters consider themselves heterosexuals.

Myth: If penetration did not occur, then nothing really happened.
Reality: Incomplete sexual assault is just as traumatic as a complete one. The child feels powerlessness, degradation, anger, guilt, shame, and confusion.

Myth: Offenders can be trusted if they promise never to do it again.
Reality: The offender won’t stop unless he gets help. Incestuous offenders tended to restrict their abuse to the family but some do seek victims outside of their family. They should be forced to get professional help.

Myth: If something “like that” is going on, the mother always knows.
Reality: Many mothers have no idea, yet blame themselves for not knowing after disclosure is made. On the other hand, there are cases that the mothers are aware of the abuse but out of fear of her husband, she does not reveal the abuse.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can a complainant of a child sexual abuse case withdraw the police report?

Once a police report is lodged, police will open an Investigation Paper (IP) and investigate the case. The police will submit the IP to the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) to see whether the perpetrator will be charged or not. If the complainant wants to withdraw the report, they have to inform the police and the DPP. The DPP has the power to decide whether to pursue the case even though the complainant withdraws the report.

2. Which department in the Hospital will treat a suspected child sexual abuse victim?

Any suspected child sexual abuse victim will be treated in one of the units under the Emergency and Trauma Department at all government hospitals called the One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC). OSCC is open 24 hours a day and caters to all cases pertaining to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect.

3. Who can report a child sexual abuse case?

Any person who has knowledge of, or a suspicion that, a child is sexually abused can lodge a police report.

4. Can the complainant of a child sexual abuse case be sued for defamation or “saman malu”?

The complainants of any child sexual abuse cases are protected under the Child Act 2001 from any liability for defamation.

5. If a child discloses being sexually abused a long time ago, can we still lodge a report?

You can still lodge a report for an incident that happened in the past or a long time ago. The police will still investigate the case to gather evidence. If there is enough evidence, further action will be taken.

6. Is it mandatory to report any child sexual abuse cases?

According to the Child Act 2001, any person who believes that a child is sexually abused has a duty to inform the Social Welfare Department or to lodge a police report. According to the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017, you are liable to a maximum fine of RM5,000 for failing to give information to the police for any child sexual abuse case.

7. Is it considered a criminal offence if the sexual abuse happens between young children?

Under the law, there is a minimum age where a person can be charged for any offences. According to the law, nothing is an offence which is done by a child under 10 years old. However, if the child is between 10 to 12 years old and if they have attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the consequences of his conduct, then they can be charged.

Sometimes the young kids do not have any bad intention of any sexual exploitation, they may just want to explore the body parts of the other child of the opposite sex. Hence, it is very important to teach your children about good touch and bad touch, respect and setting personal boundaries.

8. Does the Child Act 2001 apply for both Malaysian and non-Malaysian?

The Child Act 2001 applies to all children residing in Malaysia.

9. If a father shows pornography to his children, is it an offence?

Yes, it is an offence under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 of committing non-physical sexual assault on a child.

10. If penetration takes place without no ejaculation, is it considered rape?

Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary for the offence of rape.

11. What can parents do if they find out their children watch pornography themselves?

The parents need to find out the reason why their children watch pornography, whether is out of curiosity, peer influence, pornography addiction, etc. If the children continue watching pornography, parents may send them for counselling.

12. What is grooming?

Grooming is a term that describes the process of someone trying to get close to another person by gaining the trust of the child, friend or family members. Grooming can take place both in reality and online. In reality, it can take place at a house, neighbourhood, school, etc. Online, the person tries to befriend or pretends to be a friend to their potential victim and form a trusted relationship.

13. Why do children not tell their parents immediately about the abuse?

There are many understandable reasons why a child does not immediately disclose the abuse to their parents. Often times, children are confused and might not be able to differentiate between being abused, groomed, and loved. Besides, the abuser would have convinced the child to keep it as a secret and if they tell, no one would believe them. Sometimes, the abuser is also someone who is well known and a trusted person to the parents.

14. Why does a child sexually abuse another child?

The scenario of a child sexually abusing another child does not carry an obvious answer and might be equally complicated to understand. In some cases, it could have been that the child abuser was once sexually abused or had been exposed to sexual acts and materials. This could lead them to curiosity or to the practice of sexual acts during a young age.

15. What are the traumatic behavioural changes that can be seen in abused children?

A sexually abused child may show some behavioural changes such as clingy behaviour, bedwetting, excessive masturbating, having trust issues towards another person, self-isolation, having sexual knowledge and behaviour which is not equivalent to their age, having poor appetite, having tendency to touch their own and others’ private parts and so on.

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