Child Sexual Abuse
If you know of a child who has been sexually abused, here’s how to go about getting help for the child and reporting the case to the authorities.
Getting Help For Child Sexual Abuse
How Do I Help A Child Who Is Sexually Abused?
- Stay calm and confident
- Believe the child
- Listen but do not pressure for information
- Comfort and reassure the child that it is not her fault
- Allow expressions or feelings
- Do not try to tackle the abuser yourself
- Protect the child from further abuse
- Get medical attention for the child immediately
- Report to the social welfare department/police in your district
- Get the child to resume a normal life
- Continue support and reassurance
Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
Bring the child to the hospital
Bring the child to register at the Emergency Trauma department of any government hospital. The child will be taken to the One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) for primary medical attention.
The SCAN (Suspect Child and Neglect) Team from the Hospital will examine the child. Examination, blood taking, and all specimen collection will be done in the OSCC. The collected specimens will be handed over to police for investigation. After the examination at OSCC, the child will be admitted to the paediatric/gynae ward.
The examination report will be sent to the ward for the ward doctor for follow up. The ward doctor will refer the child to the medical social worker and child psychiatrist for counselling. While the child is hospitalised, he/she receives medical attention and counselling. When the child is well and can go home, the district social worker is responsible for ensuring that the child is placed in a safe home.
Report the case to the Social Welfare Department
Report the child abuse case to the Social Welfare Officer. After receiving the report, the child is brought to the hospital (Paediatric Department) by a Social Welfare Officer for medical attention and to certify if the has been sexually abused.
If the medical report confirms that the child has been sexually abused, the doctor then makes a police report. The Social Welfare Officer with the Court Order can conduct home visits to ensure the child is well and also provide counselling for the child and the parents (if the child is staying with the parents).
Make a police report
A report is taken by the police officer on-duty and the child will be taken to the hospital for a medical check-up.
The case will also be reported to the Social Welfare Department. The case will be referred to the police station’s Investigating Officer (IO) for further investigation.
You can lodge the report at any police station regardless of whether the incident occurred in/outside the jurisdiction of the police station.
Before you make a police report, have these facts ready:
- What is the incident?
- When did it occur?
- Where did it happen: location, name of town, village, road, house number
- Who was involved: the identity or description of suspect or witness?
- How did it happen? Damages, losses or any injury sustained.
How Can I Prevent Child Sexual Abuse?
Watch this video.
Protect your childBe careful whom you leave your child with and where you leave him/her. Abusers can be friends or family members as well as strangers.
It’s usually not a stranger
It is a myth to think that only strangers sexually abuse children. In fact, anyone who has access to children can abuse them. In 85% of reported cases, the offender is someone known to the child. Teach your child to recognise abuse and quickly tell a trusted adult – you or his/her teacher – about the incident.
Trust your child
Build a good relationship with your child so that he/she is able to talk to you. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse. Small children cannot make up stories about people doing sexual things to them. They simply do not have enough knowledge to be able to make up such stories.
Listen to your child
Be specific and make positive statements. Give support, comfort, and listen actively by keeping eye contact, nodding and using phrases like, “Yes”, “I see…”, “Mmm…” or repetition of key word. Be patient and use language that the child understands. Encourage the child to talk by saying things like: “Would you like to tell me what is bothering you? We can try to work it out together.” “Please go on…” “Take your time.” “Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?”
Believe your child
Always believe the child and let her know it; a child does not lie over such matters. Your child will need your trust and support when he/she seeks your help. Try not to use comments like “I told you so” or “Why are you so stupid” as this will cause the child to blame himself/herself. Use positive statements such as “I believe you” or “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
Your child is not to be blamed
Usually children are too scared to tell you about being abused as the abuser is someone who has power or authority over them. They could also be afraid that you will be angry at hem or blame them for what happened. You would want him/her to trust you enough to be able to tell you about any incidents that have occurred, including those involving love and sex with anyone. So learn to keep calm and convince your child that what happened in not his/her fault.
Teach your child about body safety
Children should be taught to love and respect their own bodies, and that there are certain rules regarding what adults can do to them. It is also important to emphasise that there are right and wrong ways of touching. Children are able to judge whether something is right or wrong by trusting their feelings and listening to their feelings.
It’s my body. My body is special and important. I need to love and care for it.
You could teach your child that what is covered by his/her underwear is called her private parts and that they belong only to him/her and should not be touched by just anybody or without his/her permission. Emphasise that the private parts are touched only for the purpose of hygiene and also medical reasons, e.g. a doctor.
Appropriate vocabulary for parts of the body
Use anatomical words like penis, vagina, breasts rather than judgmental words like, “pek-pek” (vagina), and “ku-ku” (penis). It’s important to use the correct words for the body parts because if someone touches their private parts they can tell you what happened.
Children may express themselves in other ways e.g. through play or drawings.
You can provide soft toys or colour pencils for the child to show you what happened to her.
Encourage the child to resume a normal life while allowing her to talk about the assault or abuse whenever she so wishes. Get medical attention for the child and report the abuse to the Social Welfare Department. Contact us to help the child deal with the trauma.
Teach your child to listen to her inner voice
Children can learn to trust their feelings about people and touches and that there is a voice within them (intuition) which will instinctively tell them when something is wrong. When a touch makes a child feel confused and uncomfortable, that is his/her inner voice (intuition) telling him/her that the touch is bad. Teach your child to trust that inner voice.
No secrets in our family
Try not to have secrets amongst family members. Often abusers tell children that “this is a secret between you and me.” This causes guilt feelings and as such he/she reveal the abuse. Tell her she is right to tell and that she does not need to keep secrets that makes her feel frightened or uncomfortable.
Check out useful resources you can use.