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One out of Two Children face Child Sexual Abuse: The Growing Problem of Child Sexual Abuse in India

A recent survey by World Vision India reveals that 50% children have faced sexual abuse in India

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  • One out of two children in India face child sexual abuse.
  • The perpetrators of sexual abuse among children are often close to them and trusted by the family.
  • The children from economically backward families are often trafficked and abused.
  • Information, awareness and communication are important tools for handling sexual abuse among children.

Child sexual abuse and child trafficking are rapidly festering problems in India, as a recent survey by World Vision India reveals that out of 45,844 children interviewed, almost half of them have been subjected to sexual abuse. The alarming statistics which indicate the unsafe circumstances faced by children also pose a glaring question: how do we know when a child has been abused?

Child sexual abuse is one of the least addressed issues in India, because of the taboo and the social stigma associated with it. Most children who have been abused refuse to disclose their discomfort out of shame and fear of punishment, as in most cases, the perpetrators of the child sexual abuse are persons who are explicitly trusted by the family. According to a survey conducted by the Government of India in 2007, the sexual abuse of children occurs mostly between the ages of 5 and 12, when they are unable to articulate their pain, as they lack the basic training to discriminate between affection and abuse.

Children engaged in labour are often trafickked and sexually abused.
Stock images, Wikipedia

Child trafficking in India

The problem of child sexual abuse in India among children is further intensified by the issue of child trafficking, as many economically backward families with multiple children often engage their children in labour, in an effort to earn their daily subsistence. The children employed in illegal labour are often trafficked away from their homes and even outside the country, where they become victims of child sexual abuse. The education system in India, which is often inaccessible to the children of the underdeveloped sections of the society, also become victims of child trafficking, as they lack the awareness and the information which might protect them from child sexual abuse.

Children engaged in labour are often trafickked and sexually abused
Stock image, Wikipedia

How to combat child sexual abuse

The main weapons in the battle against sexual abuse among children are communication and awareness. Once children learn to identify potential sexual predators, necessary steps may be adopted to ensure their safety and security. The development of a ‘safe space’ for children, where they may confide in adults without the fear of judgement or persecution might encourage them to disclose their concerns, which might help in the identification of potential threats which may hamper their well being.

“Despite one in every two children being a victim of child sexual abuse, there continues to be a huge silence. The magnitude of sexual violence against children is unknown,” states Cherian Thomas, the Director of World Vision India, claiming that one out of four families do not lodge complaints regarding cases of child sexual abuse. The unwillingness to engage in conversations regarding the growing menace of sexual abuse and trafficking among children also pose a major problem while combating with issues that threaten the safety of children. “I feel it is time that we all come under one banner and umbrella to focus our work around child protection,” said Cherian, encouraging parent-child conversation regarding sexual violence, as a measure to combat the prevalence of such crimes.

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Childhood Maltreatment Strongest Risk Factor for Depression in Adulthood: Lancet

The findings are to develop or improve risk-adapted interventions for people susceptible to a worse long-term clinical outcome

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Fourteen had a remission period of less than two months and could therefore be regarded as having chronic depression. Pixabay

Facing trauma in childhood can significantly change the structure of the brain, which may result in severe depression which could even be recurrent in adulthood, say researchers.

The results from MRI scan images suggest that both childhood maltreatment and recurring depression are associated with similar reductions in the surface area of the insular cortex, part of the brain that regulates emotion and self-awareness.

This reduction in the brain could make a future relapse more likely, said the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, which found childhood maltreatment one of the strongest risk factors for major depression in adulthood.

depression
Depression is among the leading causes of disability in the U.S. and is being closely monitored by health authorities amid rising suicides nationwide. Pixabay

“Given the impact of the insular cortex on brain functions such as emotional awareness, it’s possible that the changes we saw make patients less responsive to conventional treatments,” said lead researcher Nils Opel from the University of Munster in Germany.

The study included 110 patients aged 18 to 60 years. Of the 75 patients who experienced a relapse, 48 had experienced one additional episode, seven reported two episodes, and six experienced three episodes.

Fourteen had a remission period of less than two months and could therefore be regarded as having chronic depression.

depression
This reduction in the brain could make a future relapse more likely, said the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. Pixabay

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The findings are to develop or improve risk-adapted interventions for people susceptible to a worse long-term clinical outcome.

Future psychiatric research should therefore explore how the findings could be translated into special attention, care and treatment that could improve patient outcomes, the study noted. (IANS)