Boys bear the pain alone - Sexual assault of males under-reported
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As more agencies turn their searchlight on sexual abuse of the country's young girls, there is an increasingly loud call for more emphasis to be placed on boys who are victims of sexual abuse. According to Everton Hannam, chairman of the National Parent-Teacher Association in Jamaica, he was very disappointed that there appears to be no overwhelming drive towards identifying and assisting male victims.
"Parents and teachers within the organisation may be doing this on a one-to-one basis or in small groups but it is being done away from the headlines. And one of the reasons why it appears almost invisible is because of the absence of statistics and data," charged Hannam.
He said the huge outcry in the case of girls is driven by the numbers which show more cases of sexual abuse of girls being reported. Some 12,449 cases of sexual abuse of girls were reported to the Office of the Children's Registry between 2007 and 2013, while 892 cases of the sexual abuse of boys were reported over the same period.
Hannam charged that there is a high visibility of the groups providing assistance of various kinds to abused girls and their families, but when boys are involved in cases of sexual abuse assistance is usually under the radar.
"You have to understand that some people consider it a blot on their families if their sons are abused. It is also a blot on the boys themselves and their communities, and sometimes they don't report it.
"The boys then live through that anger and pain and sometimes that manifest itself in aggressive and antisocial behaviour," said Hannam.
He charged that parents must educate their boys, especially, to be sceptical about "soft approaches" by some individuals as "it can be initiating them into early sexual grooming".
However, Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna said the Child Development Agency (CDA) provides equal services to abused boys and girls.
"The sexual abuse and rape of boys is much more rampant thank many of us think. It is happening on a large scale, but because of the stigma and trauma, many bear the pain alone," Hanna told The Sunday Gleaner.
"But the CDA has in the past assisted, by removing boys and placing them in state care and treating them, or removing them from the house where they were abused and placed with other family members," added Hanna.
The youth minister noted that, like the girls, boys are being assaulted by the boyfriends of their mothers, and there have been reports of young boys, "seven, nine, 11 years old having been abused by taxi drivers who take them to school".
Hanna noted that in the case of teenage boys, many are abused by older women and this is not reported. "But abuse by any gender, male or female, is still abuse," noted Hanna.
She encouraged parents to be vigilant with their children constantly to detect any behaviour change that may be a sign of abuse.