Keeping kids safe from predators

Child molestation is the assault on the child’s body, though malicious contact and the use of his/her body in activity that may be complete or superficial. Besides abuse by adults, sexual touching between children can be also called sexual abuse, especially when there is a significant age difference (as 3 years or more). Sometimes child abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child, as some other forms such as exhibitionism, fondling and sex trafficking for instance are also considered as abuse.
The perpetrator prey on the innocent child and the incident is repeated and some of them are often not reported for fear of the victim’s reputation when he grows up, or more often as a result of the victim not informing his family and that perhaps for fear of being blamed, or as a result of a threat from the aggressor to harm him or his family, or even because of a sense of shame and disgrace as a result of his inability to protect himself, or the wrong feelings of the victim’s guilt, or perhaps the delusion of the aggressor to the child that he enjoyed the experience. The perpetrator did he recognised how such type of abuse is a painful, traumatic family secret that has rippling effects upon the entire family.
The children with mental illnesses, or physical disabilities are more than twice likely to report the abuse than their peers. Also, sexual exploitation is another form of child sexual abuse, where the child is talked into or forced into sex acts in exchange for things like money, drugs or foods.
Hence, there is no doubt that the parents should devote time to their children to tell them about the natural events of their day, not only that, but to be present in the lives of their children in a way that provides safety and to assure a sense of always having a strong and understandable supports in their life, however the parents should assure their child that in the event of any attack, he/she will not be blamed.
Even though, the parents should consider the following warning sign of the abuse like bleeding or swelling in the genital area, difficulty walking or sitting and frequent urinary or yeast infection, adding to that some behavioural signs (child may start to be aggressive, having a regular nightmare, use sexually explicit language). Most often such abuse is a gradual process and not a single event, hence parents must take the primary responsibility by addressing any concerning or questionable behaviour which may pose a risk to a child’s safety. The real crisis that sounds the phenomenon of harassment is the denial by the family of its existence and the protection of the aggressor, especially if he is a relative, or known to the child or family from his punishment by appropriate legal means.
There are many steps of treatment of child abuse, involving a therapy programme, but one of the most controversial differences between the traditional child advocacy and systemic approach is to treating child abuse is the role of the family intervention and whether a family can be reunited. Clinical studies indicate that the child’s feeling of guilt, might shake of his self-confidence and his feeling of insult and worthlessness is among most important negative effects that he/she control in the vent of sexual harassment. Therefore, children need cognitive behavioural therapeutic intervention in order to improve their psychological development and restore the confidence in himself or herself. The Ministry of Social Development have lunched long time ago, a free hotline that facilitates any abuse reports and aiming to combat any type of child abuse in the country.
Neglecting to treat a child means suppressing feelings of pain, shame and fears which makes him vulnerable to future mental illness as explained earlier with signs of anxiety, suspicion and possibly behavioural deviations. Our children are a comprehensive responsibility and raising them should not be limited to satisfying their primary needs, rather protect the child psychologically and morally.

Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at:

Oman Observer