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The rate of child sexual abuse is increasing and this is creating worry and tension in the society. What used to be a rare occurrence has gone daily, and not all the cases are reported in the media or to the police.

Majority of abusers are males while majority of victims are females. Religious organisations are worried, same for human rights groups, civil society groups, parents and guardians.

Child abuse usually happen in the home or yard with someone the child knows not with strangers. The abuser could be ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mummy,’ ‘Uncle, ‘or ‘Aunty.’ And Uncle may not be a family member or blood relation.

He may be a neighbour, unemployed youth, nearby shop owner, church member, lesson teacher, Daddy’s driver or business partner, family friend or any person who visits your home regularly. Women also sexually abuse children but such cases are hardly reported.

Parents and guardians now nurse fear over the safety of their children as adults use children, some below age 5, to satiate their lust. Single mothers are the hardest hit, as they virtually abandon the child to the care of others to struggle for daily bread. Men who sexually abuse children are called paedophiles.

The age of their victims range from as low as three years to teenagers. And when caught in the act, the abuser blames the ‘devil’ for the act. Parents’ beware! Paedophiles are on rampage. Your child could be a victim.

Stories of rape, incest, sexual molestation are now increasingly reported in the media, and the disturbing dimension is that most of the victims are children. The sordid and gory tales often leaves victims’ families in a state of bewilderment and shock. The question of concerned observers is:

Why would anyone defile an innocent child? And the worst case scenario is that the abuser could be the parent of the child or family member.

Intra-familial abuse is one of the worst tortures a child can suffer. It affects the child psychologically and emotionally. A girl that is sexually abused by her father also goes through multiple traumas and her mother is at a loss on how to manage the tragedy and handle the monster at home. Mommy is also saddled with the responsibility of helping her daughter cope with the psychological healing.

How does a young girl know she is close to a paedophile? Psychologists and behavioural experts should rise to this challenge and save our children. A friendly man a child loves and trusts could be a monster. Like all stages of grief, shock and withdrawal is usually the first reaction of a victim while the abuser is quick to deny. I remember a case where a friend of mine was sexually harassed by an uncle.

Nobody believed her story. Her uncle denied the charge and later beat her up thoroughly. As is it is Nigeria so it happens in other countries.

A case reported in India showed a young girl who was sexually abused by her father. She was denied justice simply because her mother blamed her for it. The net of abusers has been thrown wider to include aunties, cousins, friends of siblings, and house helps.

Family values are being eroded just as sexual harassment, incest and rape have become frequent. Against the background of values such as, you cannot accuse an Elder or Chief, the mother of the female victim finds herself in a dilemma; whether to believe the abuser or the victim. Most times she believes the former.

Some families now understand the dangers of some family values and are quick to keep their relatives at bay. What about the housemaid who stays all day with the child? She may well be a home terrorist. This has made increasing number of young mothers raising children to avoid them. Perhaps, a CCTV will be very handy, but how many families can afford this?

And the neighbour who plays with the child and supplies ice cream, sweets, or candy to entice the little boy or girl and begins to fondle him or her. That’s a danger signal.

Causes of Abuse
The reasons are many but some are worthy of mention. Alcohol and drug abuse come in here. Negligence of parents and guardians has reached an all-time high. If you are not observant or you put all your attention on work and business, your child could be a victim.

There is that family friend or regular visitor you don’t suspect who lurks around, looking for the opportunity to strike. When you are busy with work or project, or you concentrate on something or business that takes your whole time, or you travel frequently, this is a clear signal to the abuser that the coast is clear for him to make that move.

He comes to your home frequently on the pretext of asking after your children. Then he strikes. He fusses over your young daughter, cuddles her, and is eager to play the role of baby-sitter, if she is a toddler. This person may end up introducing your other children to pornography, another cause of child sexual abuse. This is being fast tracked by digital technology.

And a new trend has set in. Incest has become rampant among cousins and siblings and the number of men who sleep with their daughters, sometimes forcefully, is increasing.

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