Sexual Abuse & Child Molestation
The type of experiences we group under the label of sexual abuse are quite varied, and can range from rather benign encounters to forceful and violent attacks such as rape. Thankfully, very few instances fall on the severe side of the spectrum. The overwhelming majority of incidents are non-violent, and involve someone who has no intent to harm the child. It typically occurs because affection becomes sexualized, not because a person gets sexual thrills from a child’s torment.
Though sexual abuse gets the most media attention, the realities typically do not match the hype. A recent review of studies found that around 50% of kids show no ill effects whatsoever from it, most of the remainder typically exhibit mild symptoms that go away within 2 years, and only a small portion experience any adverse effects lasting beyond 2 years. (Kendall-Tacket, Williams, & Finkelhor, 1993) Furthermore, many experts have concluded that children are typically harmed far more by adult reactions and social attitudes delivered IN RESPONSE to the experience than they are by the experiences themselves. (Read more...) Sadly, many people do suffer enduring distress even after experiencing non-violent contact, not because lifelong pain is a natural outcome to a few moments of discomfort, but because they are taught to adopt destructive ideas about what such an experience means about them as a person.
Because a child’s welfare is so dependent upon how parents respond to these experiences, it’s absolutely crucial that adults take the time to educate themselves on this subject so that they don’t become a child’s most hurtful abuser. The following resources will help you protect children against molestation, and also provide valuable knowledge so that adults can respond to these incidents in a more intelligent way.