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Working to Prevent Sexual Abuse Against Children

Society has to face up to the fact that sexual abuse of children is growing throughout the nation, and practical steps to help victims must be developed, a recent forum on juvenile rights decided.

“How can we help the children being sexually abused to reduce their sufferings to the lowest possible level?” asked Zhang Ping, teacher who helps operate a children’s telephone hotline.

“A girl from Jiangxi Province told me that she was abused by her teacher when she was only 11. She didn’t tell the truth to her parents, as she was afraid of not being able to go to school any more. The girl is 16 now and often laughed at for late menstruation.

“All I could do at that time was to comfort her, though knowing it was of little practical help in solving the problem,” said Zhang.

“A girl suffering a gang rape dared not tell anyone except her little cat,” said Wang Dawei, assistant professor with the China Public Security University. “The crux of the matter is how to help the victims emerge from shadows when such abuses occur,” said Wang.

It is a time for the whole of society to face up the problem, said Liu Shumei, an expert of a national children-care working committee. She said that schools and families must shoulder the responsibility of stopping the cycle of abuse, and sexual knowledge should be added to curricula in primary and middle schools.

Liu said that children must be warned about sexual abuse and trained to protect themselves. They must develop awareness of potential abusers and be encouraged to seek help.

Individuals and the whole society have a role to play in preventing sexual abuse of children, said Tong Lihua, lawyer of a youngsters’ legal consulting hotline. “Many victims are treated as guilty in some way, even though they were harmed without giving provocation,” said Tong, adding that the public security departments should handle the cases on the premise of protecting youngsters’ rights to privacy.

The country should establish a social protection chain, said Prof. Wang. Non-governmental and governmental organizations should have a close cooperation, because public security departments cannot supervise and protect the victims all day long, said Wang.

According to him, it is better to establish a social organization where abused children can be psychologically comforted by specially trained workers and provided with various kind of service including legal proceedings.

(www.china.org.cn 04/06/2001)

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