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Child Molesting

Over a couple of years, ever since I started to read Reader’s Digest, I have came across more than a dozen articles on one of the saddest trends in our society: crimes against children specially the sexual mistreatment of children.

Child molesting is a conscious/unconscious violent act that causes psychological and physical damage, which happens everywhere. It can be either in families, institutions like kindergartens, schools and homes. Such a cruel act causes injuries, inhibition or even death as it interferes and threatens the well-being and rights of a child.

Generally in about 80 percent of the cases, the child or the family knows the sexual molester. It could be an uncle, aunt, neighbour or parents. Any person, especially those in the position of authority can be a potential molester. This includes strangers.

In Malaysia, reports of child molestation have quadrupled over the past decade. In Thailand, 75 percent of the men in one recent survey admitted using child prostitutes. Meanwhile in South Africa, it is estimated that one in four girls and one in eight boys are sexually abused before the age of sixteen. A report in the Ladies Home Journal magazine shows that the sexual abuse of young girls is four times more common than the rape of adult women. Between the age of 5 to 13, one in four little girls becomes prey to some form of sexual abuse by adults (it can be either inappropriate fondling, rape or incest). Although young females are the most common victims, 20 – 25 percent of those attacked are little boys.

Child molesting is neither new nor rare. This long-standing problem that is epidemic today causes a devastating impact on the victims. Many of them suffer low self-esteem and profound feelings of worthlessness. The most common after effects of incest on girls are running away, indulging in drugs and alcohol, depression, delinquency, sleeping disturbance, suicidal tendency and promiscuity. There are also long-range effects that could include poor parenting skills, prostitution, distrust of men, lesbianism, frigidity and child molestation itself.

To the children and young people, you don’t have to live in constant fear of being molested. Such act can be stopped if only you can protect yourself. It is very important for you to communicate with the right channel. You can talk to your parents, any grown-up in charge or teachers if anything seems strange and confusing to you. If something makes you uncomfortable, you should talk to someone about it, even though it seems small.

Always ask permission from your parents or grown-up in charge before going anywhere with anybody, leaving the play area or going into somebody’s house, catching a ride home with someone, getting into a car or leaving with someone (even if it is someone you know). Once you get your parents permission, always tell them where are you going, how you will get there, who will be going with you, when you will back and remember always get back on time or call with new information.

This may be a little silly or perhaps kind of restrictive, but always, always, always let your family know where you are at all times. Believe it or not, this is for their protection as much as it is for you. Family members should always know where each other are, so they can contact each other in case of a family emergency.

If permission is not given, do not take actions on your own. Parents or those responsible over you have good reasons in not allowing you to do. Safety and your well-being are important to them and you.

Do not take or receive any money, gifts or treats without telling your parents or person in charge.

If someone follows you on foot or in a car, STAY AWAY from him or her. You do not need to go near the car or talk to the person. If you are in a public place and someone tries to take you somewhere by force, try to get away from him or her and yell and scream: “ This man is trying to take me away!” or “Help, this person is not my father/mother!”

Remember that you have the right to say “NO”. No one has the right to touch your body in anyway that makes you feel uncomfortable. You have the right to control what happens to your body. You should learn to trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with the hugs and kisses you get from a relative or friend, you should not put up with them.

Lastly victims of sexual abuse don’t blame themselves. Always remember that sexual abuse is not the victim’s fault. It is like a tragic accident, much like a car crash. So, you don’t have to feel guilty about it and affect your life.

Remember, it is never too late to ask for help. And, keep asking until you get the help you need. Many people care about you, will listen to you, and will believe you.

C.V. Annusha A/P C.V. Gopi
Intern Student at FFPAM (April/May 2003)
Universiti Sains Malaysia

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