On Sunday, November 19, the International Day to Combat Sexual Abuse of Children was commemorated. It is a date that challenges us to reflect on the importance of making visible and preventing this form of violence that affects children and adolescents and has devastating consequences for their lives. This phenomenon, for the most part, occurs with the complicity and silence of others, so it is imperative not to silence the voices of its victims.
Sexual abuse is a form of violence stipulated in the National Civil and Commercial Code. Furthermore, it is a crime sanctioned by the National Penal Code and classified as a public crime, that is, its investigation does not require the approval of a responsible adult.
In Argentina, according to data from the national program Las Víctimas contra las Violencias, in the period 2020-2021, 58% of the registered victims of sexual violence were children and adolescents (3,219, out of a total of 5,566). In all age groups, females represented almost four times as many victims as males. Among males, the highest percentage of victims is in the range of 12 to 17 years, and the City and Province of Buenos Aires are the regions with the highest concentration of consultations (63%).
Sexual abuse manifests itself both within the family and outside the family, and approximately 75% of victims are violated by people in their close environment or area of trust. The seriousness of these events requires a conscious view, which understands abuse against children as a social problem and urges work on reporting and prevention.
It is essential to strengthen family and community ties, generate spaces for dialogue about sexuality from enjoyment and affection, and be attentive to behavioral changes in boys and girls. All of this requires sensitive adults capable of transforming that dangerous internal world into a safe and protective environment.
Addressing sexual abuse involves making visible a form of abuse of power rooted in emotional relationships of necessary emotional, economic and cultural dependence, which harms the autonomous and integral development of the victim. This type of violence causes severe damage to the physical and emotional integrity of those who suffer it; It generates cognitive, social and emotional difficulties that can put their lives at risk. However, the traces of abuse are reversible if intervention is made in time.
Ensuring attentive and affective listening, allowing the child to feel believed, heard and content is the first and fundamental step on this path. This will strengthen her sense of justice and confidence to report the incident, receive specialized care and guidance on the steps to follow, as well as the necessary support for her and her family.
Child protection requires the joint action of the entire society, and this must be the priority of intervention by the State as guarantor of children’s rights. Awareness-raising and the management of comprehensive public policies are essential to address the reporting, response and treatment of this problem.
* Program Director of SOS Children’s Villages Argentina
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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