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SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE - DEFINITION

Now that we have a much clear picture of the topic of Child Pornography, we can move on to the second topic; the topic of the Sexual Child Abuse. As in the previous one, our first task will be to obtain a definition.

In this area, however, sensible definitions are quite easy to come by because they are mostly driven by medical scientific findings and not political biases.

In general terms, we can define Sexual Child Abuse as a situation where a person (typically an adult) uses a child (or minor) for sexual stimulation through the payment of wages, coercion or imposition. We will ignore the case where Sexual Child Abuse occurs motivated by for-profit reasons since as previously indicated this case is rare indeed.

However, as in the case of the definition of Child Pornography, there is a problem. It is not clear, legally speaking, what constitutes a child as there are many legal and use and custom loopholes and variations to precise legal definition(s) which vary from country to country. Furthermore, we must also consider the sexual abuses that children suffer through (legal) marriages at a young age. If we consider both aspects, we come to the realization that Sexual Child Abuse of immature (physical and psychological) children is well defined, but its legal definition is quite fuzzy, depending of country of reference.

SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE - CONSEQUENCES

In this we are also fortunate in having significant scientific literature which, in no uncertain terms, outlines the consequences of Sexual Child Abuse. They include a long list of short-term and long-term serious psychopatalogies such as major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, propensity to victimize in adulthood, psychological trauma, attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, self-harm, propensity towards crime, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, dissociative states and so on. Many abused children also experience physical trauma, such as injuries, infections, neurological damage, and others. For a more comprehensive discussion of this topic, see Wikipedia (Child sexual abuse).

Basically, the consequences to children for sexual abuse are severe, statistically speaking.

SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE - PREVALENCE

Although child sexual abuse has been studied scientifically, the results are far less than clear due to a large degree of variability between studies as well as limited information.

One such study provides the following data about abused children as a percentage of all children in the region:

  • Africa: 35%
  • America: 16%
  • Asia: 10%
  • Europa: 9%
  • Oceania: 24%
  • USA: 17%
  • South Africa: 54%

This same study indicates that at the worldwide level, the prevalence is about 20% for females and 8% for males.

Another study indicates:

  • Africa:             20%
  • Asia:   6%
  • Australia:       15%
  • Europe:          10%
  • South America:        14%
  • US/Canada: 15%

An NGO organization presents the following figures which are clearly at odds with previous data:

  • Asia: 0.07 %
  • USA: 0.4 %
  • India: 0.9%
  • South Africa: 0.16%

The UNICEF reports that statistics are actually unknown.

As usual, we will take the worst case scenario and for analysis purposes we will accept the 20% and 8% dataset.

SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE - ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS

If the available information at hand is correct, the vast majority of Sexual Child Abuse occurs for the following reasons:

  • Child marriage (i.e. the formal or informal marriage of children under 18)
  • Personal gratification or enjoyment (i.e. paedophilia)
  • Direct sexual exploitation for commercial purposes (e.g. whorehouses or sex tourism)

However, what most sources seem to also indicate is that, as expected, harm through Child Pornography represents only a tiny collateral business practice incidentally tied to the direct sexual exploitation for commercial purposes and as such it is minimal.

In addition, sources would seem to indicate that Child Marriage represents about 25% of the total, worldwide, Sexual Child Abuse percentage.

The percentage of child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation purposes represents about 1% of the total, worldwide, Sexual Child Abuse percentage.

The percentage of children in the prostitution trade is about 0.5%.

This allows us to calculate the percentage of Sexual Child Abuse for personal gratification or enjoyment which is about 73.5%; by far the largest percentage.

CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

So, time to recap. What have we learned so far? The following:

Child Pornography

  • The definition of Child Pornography is very unclear for Class I and II and often contradictory and subjective. However, Class III is better defined.
  • The possession of Child Pornography of either Class is prosecuted to a large range of degrees through the world even considering that these materials present a large subjective degree of variability and many are clearly open to interpretation.
  • The creation of Child Pornography, particularly of Class III is very seldom prosecuted.
  • There is a large degree of misconceptions, propaganda and myths surrounding Child Pornography. Oftentimes this kind of misleading information is disseminated by "agents of the law" for their own political or otherwise benefit.
  • The notion and focus on organized groups of users of Child Pornography is overblown completely out of proportion, being the vast majority of such users simple, individual people.
  • The idea that true organized crime is behind a large portion of Child Pornography is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, a great deal of information seems to indicate that the opposite is true. (i.e. that most Child Pornography is developed by amateur paedophiles).
  • The vast majority of countries have specific laws against Child Pornography but those laws exhibit loopholes and variations and are very haphazardly enforced. Such laws have the tendency to bundle Child Pornography with Sexual Child Abuse or imply causation but they almost never provide a scientific justification for such assumptions.
  • We learned that the exposure of users to Child Pornography poses (in all likelihood) a negligible harm to children.
  • We also learn that the creation of Child Pornography of any Class seems to pose little to no harm to children as such materials are primarily and by far side-effects of Sexual Child Abuse and not the other way around.
  • It has also become clear that our arguments in the previous points appear to have a sound scientific basis in terms of biology and psychology.

Child Sexual Abuse

  • We learned that Sexual Child Abuse is fairly accurately defined at a clinical level, but it is far less clearly defined at a legal level.
  • We also learned that Sexual Child Abuse does cause severe harm to children.
  • And that Sexual Child Abuse seems to be prevalent throughout the world but accurate figures are difficult to come by.
  • Lastly, we come to the conclusion that amateur Sexual Child Abuse is responsible for about 73.5% of all cases worldwide.

This is, in a nutshell, the current state of global affairs when it comes to Child Pornography and Sexual Child Abuse.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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