Encyclopedia > Child sexual abuse

  Article Content

Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is the ill-treatment of children in a sexual context. It is regarded as particularly reprehensible in many societies.

Child sexual abuse is overwhelmingly done by parents of the children, or at their behest. Systematic denial perpetuates the myth of a "stranger" (typically male) accosting children, as the principal cause of child sexual abuse. However, some pedophiles do seek out victims among children in this way.

Child sexual abuse has been given much more attention in Western society since the late 1970s. Awareness of the problem has greatly increased, although much remains to be done. Critics have argued that in many cases, innocents have become victims of mass hysteria surrounding child sexual abuse. Psychological techniques involving discovery of child sexual abuse, including memory recovery, are considered highly questionable by some (see false memories, satanic ritual abuse, multiple personality disorder).

"Children who molest"

A recent US trend within the treatment of child sexual abuse, starting perhaps in the early 1990s, is the focus on "juvenile sex offenders" or even children. The label "juvenile sex offender" is controversial because it is not only used to describe acts of violence, but also consensual acts that violate statutory rape laws. Similarly, many if not most "children who molest" are viewed by critics of this trend as simply sexually experimenting. Yet, in these cases, both therapy and detention are frequent consequences.

Therapies used even on young children have included controversial methods such as aversion therapy[?], where children are, for example, forced to smell ammonia while looking at nude pictures or to listen to audio tapes describing sexual situations. In order to measure sexual response, devices like penile plethysmographs[?] and vaginal plethysmographs[?] are sometimes used on these children.

Historical aspects

Though few doubt that child sexual abuse does occur and has negative effects on the children involved, there is much controversy over whether certain practices should be considered abuse. This is especially common when commentators examine rituals practiced in cultures geographically or temporally removed from their own. In many cases, rituals or ceremonies of cultural or religious significance involve activities that some describe as child sexual abuse. These include castration, circumcision (of males), female genital mutilation, infibulation, cutting and bleeding of the genitals and Chinese footbinding[?].

Pederasty in ancient Greece took on mystical significance, where semen from a noble man was believed to give arete to a young man through anal intercourse. This was part of a common practice in Greece where a noble man took on a young male as a student. This relationship was highly idealized in Greek culture and often involved sexual acts as mentioned. Since the practice was so widespread in ancient Greece, and there is no indication of any detractors at the time, many do not consider this an example of child sexual abuse (see moral relativism). Generally, people who hold this view believe that sexual acts can only be termed "abuse" if there is a victim who experiences negative effects as a result of the activities. Since there is no evidence of this occurring, many have concluded that this should not be considered abuse.

Circumcision is the practice of removing the foreskin of a male. Some consider this practice to be a type of child sexual abuse, though others claim that the negative effects associated with child sexual abuse do not occur with circumcision. See circumcision for a detailed description of this controversy. Similarly, the various "remedies" against masturbation which were proposed and used from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, ranging from physical restraints to castration, have been called sexual abuse, and the common practice of spanking (often on the nude bottom) has been claimed to have sexual undertones (see spanking for a discussion of the sexual fetish of spanking).

In ancient China, young girls often had their feet bound in a manner that caused the big toe to stick out. The enlarged toe served as a substitute penis for the girl. Some ancient Chinese texts describe using the big toe in sexual play, leading many researchers to conclude that the practice was abusive. Others doubt that statement, and claim that this was a standard and accepted practice, and did not cause the negative effects associated with modern child sexual abuse.

In some South Pacific island cultures, it was believed that young boys needed to swallow large amounts of semen, termed jerungdu, in order to properly mature sexually. This was accomplished by older boys receiving oral sex from the younger boys. However, again, this was the accepted norm in those societies.

See also

External link

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
David McReynolds

... Activist. 1999, May 01 - "Annual Dinner And Peace Award Ceremony: A Celebration Of David McReynolds" - Pamphlet: War Resisters League. 2000, April 17 - ...

This page was created in 23.4 ms