Many adults and children in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have a limited understanding of the risks of sexual abuse. This startling fact is revealed in a new report: “Sex, Abuse and Childhood: A study about knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to child sexual abuse, including in travel and tourism, in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam” compiled in Bangkok, Thailand on June 4.
The report finds that children and their families have a limited understanding of what child sexual abuse is, and how it can be prevented. The four-country report presents an overview of the findings of four separate surveys conducted in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam between 2011 and 2012. The report was officially launched on June 4, by Project Childhood Prevention Pillar, with funding from the Australian government and support from World Vision. The report finds that of all the groups interviewed, parents had the lowest levels of understanding on the issue of child sexual abuse. Vietnamese parents were even unable to clearly verbalize behavior or identify examples of child sexual abuse.
Children at risk due to use of the internet is highlighted in the report.
According to the Vietnamese survey, all of the interviewed students brought their cell phones to school. Every day, they text between 20 and 50 messages, spend two to seven hours using the phone, and from one to four hours chatting online or playing video games. One Vietnamese 16-year-old female high school student reported that 20 out of her 200 yahoo IDs on her contact list belonged to strangers whom she now considered to be her friends. She gave her mobile phone number to five of those strangers, of whom four are male. “Many children do not understand the risks of using the internet and are unaware that many sex offenders will try to lure children through chat sites. As a general rule, children should never chat to strangers online,” says Mr. Nguyen Khanh Hoi, National Coordinator of Project Childhood Prevention Pillar of World Vision Vietnam. The report indicates that the Internet was also used by sex offenders to de-sensitize children to acts of abuse. “There are new forms of child sexual abuse that have been appearing together with the boom of technology.
How are sexually abusive acts?
Sexually abusive acts, such as uploading child abuse images via sex websites or sex chatting with children or forcing children to reveal their bodies via webcam, are not generally recognized as forms of sexual abuse. We found that children did not seem to be aware of the danger that strangers posed online”, he adds. Of the total of 600 people interviewed in the report, 257 people including 156 children and 101 adults were interviewed in Vietnam. The respondents consisted of school children, street and working children, parents and relatives, friends of children, duty bearers, hotel owners, orphans and abandoned children. In Vietnam, the study took place in districts 4 and 8 of Ho Chi Minh City and in Do Son and Thuy Nguyen districts in Haiphong. “Limited understanding of child sexual abuse by children and adults means that cases can go undetected,” says Aarti Kapoor, Regional Program Manager of Childhood Project. The report recommends child sexual abuse prevention education, particularly for parents, children and community members. “We know from international experience that child sexual abuse prevention education is an effective preventative mechanism to build resilience against abuse in vulnerable communities”, says Aarti Kapoor, “Children and adults need the information, skills and strategies to protect children from all kinds of sexual abuse – whether committed by a stranger, foreigner, local person, friend or family member”. “We cannot get sustainable success in child sexual abuse prevention and protection by raising awareness of only one separate targeted group. We also cannot impose or prohibit children from their desire of exploring the world by using internet and technology. Integrated education and communication for children, family and community members should be implemented”, adds Mr. Hoi.
The report also shows that children in difficult circumstances and in indigenous places such as rural, mountainous areas or even orphanages tend to become the targeted destination of foreign child sex offenders.
Source : www.ngocentre.org.vn