Why young children sexually abuse siblings, friends

Monday, October 25, 2010

MELBOURNE - A new study has suggested that kids who are born into families in which abuse, violence and neglect is common are more likely to indulge in sexually abusing other children.

The researchers studies boys aged 10 or under who have molested siblings, classmates, or friends.

The study found that the boys were unable to form healthy relationships as a result of neglectful and hostile parenting.

Even before starting school, they were anxious, angry and detached; bed-wetting, nightmares, self-harm and eating problems were common.

By the time they received specialist help they had all perpetrated serious abuse against several children.

The research, conducted in the London-based National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service, found that the authorities as well as teachers, social workers and doctors, often missed numerous opportunities to intervene.

Colin Hawkes, the study’s author, said that professionals often ignore, dismiss or punish early warning signs such as a child exposing himself or talking explicitly about sex because they find it difficult to believe that children are physically or emotionally capable of such things.

The study also found that in a third of the 27 cases in its sample group the birth mother was suspected of sexually abusing her child.

The study asserted that in many cases the abusers copy what adults around them are doing.

They may also be seeking control in response to the cruelty and loneliness of their own lives, while spoiling the life of a “luckier or happier” child.

Researchers were most shocked to find that many of the boys had learnt to groom and target vulnerable children.

“This small minority cannot think straight. They have never experienced calm, coherent parenting,” the Herald Sun quoted Hawkes as saying.

“By the time we see them they have been spinning through a spiral of thoughts and feelings and sexually harmful behaviours for years.

Early intervention is key as the longer you leave it, the more likely these harmful patterns become fixed [in the brain],” he said.

The findings would be published in Child Abuse Review next year. (ANI)

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