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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Incest in America

There has been a lot of well deserved attention on the plught of women in India as a result of the high profile rape case that is presently before the coutrs. Research in India identifies that the rate of sexual abuse is bery high - over 50% of children according to the officicial statistics. But a new article in The Atlantic tells us that we in the west should save our smugness, if indeed there is any left after the likes of Cardinal Mahoney in Los Angeles, Gerry Sandusky at Penn State, Graham James in canada and Jimmy Saville in the UK.

However what the article describes is a large, secret problem in the USA (and probbaly in other western countries). It is the dirty secret we do not want to talk about. The article notes:

Here are some statistics that should be familiar to us all, but aren't, either because they're too mind-boggling to be absorbed easily, or because they're not publicized enough. One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, an overwhelming incidence of which happens within the family. These statistics are well known among industry professionals, who are often quick to add, "and this is a notoriously underreported crime."

The repotr helps to show how significantly under reported sexual abuse is thus causing one to wonder about under repotring. It also notes that the prime place where sexual abuse takes place is within the family systems.

This is a conversation that we need to have but for which child protection and criminal justice systems are woefully unprepared to have at this scale. One can only imagine the impact if more and more victims begin telling what has and is happening. Yet, that is precisely what we need to encourage. The more the secrets leak out and victims can see society respond supportively, the safer it becomes for victims to disclsoe.

The notion of the family as the primary unit of our society makes sense but only when that has a foundation of safety, nurturance and oportunity for growth. Sexual abuse provides just the opposite.

Sexually Abused Child_Quiet

The Atlantic article is worth a read.

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