Sexual abuse against children is one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed. According to police officers, even convicted murderers despise those who have sexually abused children. Over the past years, sexual crime against children has become a subject of great community concern. Although it can be extremely difficult to talk about, and even harder to admit, the exploitation of children of all ages including infants happens every day. This is a fact evidenced by public declarations from adult survivors, increased media coverage, and the expanding body of literature on sexual abuse. In 2005 according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, it is estimated that 9.3 percent of confirmed child abuse and neglect cases involved sexual abuse. This figure translates into 83,800 sexually abused victims in 2005.
Sex crimes against children can be divided up into three categories:
· Sexual exploitation
· Non-touching sexual offenses
· Touching sexual offenses
Sexual exploitation of children can include engaging a child in prostitution, or soliciting a child for the purposes of prostitution. Other methods of sexual exploitation include using a child to model pornography, whether it is live, or to be filmed, or photographed. Non-touching sexual offenses are actions of sexual abuse that do not involve contact with the victim. Examples of these offenses are engaging in indecent exposure, exposing a child to any pornographic material, visual or audible, deliberately exposing a child to the acts of sexual intercourse and/or exposing a child to the act of masturbation. Touching sexual offenses are, for the most part, self-explanatory. These kinds of offenses include any form of physical sexual contact between an adult and a child.
While the obvious physical effects of sexual abuse are horrific and in some cases deadly, the psychological and mental effects are detrimental and can be very long lasting, even crippling. Because of the trauma induced by this kind of abuse, there are several ways that a person can be psychologically harmed. These effects include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and can range to substance abuse, animal cruelty, and even suicide. These are just a few examples, and the severity of any psychological harm, statistically, is increased if the sexual abuser is a relative.
Psychological disorders grow and change as the victim becomes older, the effects of abuse extend far beyond childhood. Abusing a child sexually robs them of their childhood, therefore creating a lack of trust, some feelings of guilt, and even self-abusive behavior. One of the most common effects of child abuse is promiscuity in later years, and sexualized behavior. These are not inherent attributes in a child and can be used as clues to indicate the sexual abuse of the child.
A child’s innocence is a precious thing, and must be protected. Unfortunately this is not always a task that can be accomplished, according to statistics, child abuse does happen very frequently. Anyone who violates a child sexually must be punished for their crimes. While there is no amount of money that can buy back a child’s innocence or trust, there is still the monetary compensation that can, and should be obtained for damages incurred.