|Outreach N° 96 - Children in especially Difficult Circumstances - Part 1: Working and Street Children (OUTREACH - UNEP - WWF, 68 p.)|
Reprinted from The Rights of the World's Children: a Development Education Kit published by UNICEF (1989). If reproduced, please credit original source. For further information, write to: UNICEF, 3 U.N. Plaza, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
teachers, youth workers: As a guide to help answer children's questions about sexual exploitation;
radio broadcasters, journalists: As the basis of a programme or article directed at children or the parents of children.
Here are questions frequently raised when one talks to children about sexual exploitation, with some suggested answers:
Q. Should you always have to keep a secret?
A. Some secrets should not be kept. If anyone asks you to do things you don't like to do, or if you feel confused, uncomfortable or frightened, you should refuse. Find a trusted adult to tell.
Q. But do adults listen?
A. Very often adults do not listen enough when you tell them about things people have done to you. But you shouldn't give up. Keep trying until someone listens.
Q. Are there occasions when it's all right to tell a lie or break a promise?
A. To keep safe, sometimes it is necessary to tell a lie or break a promise in order to frighten somebody who may be dangerous to you.
Q. What kind of children are exposed to violence or sexual exploitation?
A. It is wrong to believe that the victim is usually a teenage girl. Girls and boys of all ages are exposed to sexual assaults, and victims are often young children and even babies.
Q. What kind of people commit sexual offences?
A. Strangers are not the main dangers. In 85 per cent of the cases1, the offender is a member of the child's immediate family or someone the child knows and trusts - a parent, relative, older friend or neighbour. Many of the offenders have been exploited themselves and most of them have problems in relating naturally to people their own age.
Q. Might not the child himself be the reason for exploitation?
A. The adult is responsible - always. An adult can never justify committing acts of violence or exploitation against children. Nothing a child does can ever justify such acts.
Q. Am I always safe at home?
A. Half of the acts of sexual abuse are committed within the home or family. But most children have access to adults they can trust. That person might be one of the parents, the teacher, an aunt or uncle, or neighbour, or maybe the parents of a good friend. It is important that the child tell someone that he/she is being exploited. In many cities there are emergency telephone numbers available to get in touch with people who can be of help in such situations. It is important to teach children not to put themselves into difficult or dangerous situations and to reach safety, whenever possible.
Q. Does sexual abuse happen only in poor problem families?
A. Child sexual assault occurs in all kinds of families - rich or poor, large or small, well-educated or not.
Q. Does sexual exploitation involve violence?
A. Sexual exploitation seldom involves violence because offenders known to a child do not usually need to use force. Instead they use promises, threats, and bribes, and take advantage of the fact that the child is powerless.
1 Report of the New South Wales Child Sexual Assault Task Force to the Premier, March 1985, Australia.