Image: Unicef

Coronavirus and Child Abuse (John Hopkins University Report)

Ever since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in multiple countries, the workers at the National Sexual Assault Hotline have made a new shocking revealing. As to them, this is the first time ever that half of the hotline calls were made by children younger than 18. These callers discussed their worries about their safety while disengaged at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The inaugural director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Elizabeth Letourneau says that the coronavirus emergency has incidentally produced two areas of concern. First, they accept that the risk for online offending has increased because children spent most of the time online for education and recreation. Second, they also accept that risk offending perpetrated by family members has increased because children and adults do not spend much time together. 

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Letourneau is a professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School and she has spent more than twenty years researching and evaluating legal policy.

Recently, The Moore Center assembled several resources for families to prevent child sexual abuse during the lockdown and for people worried about their own sexual emotions including children. The Centre additionally optimized the release of a free online course called Help Wanted that helps individuals who are pulled to children practice healthy.

Letourneau says that they want to help parents a little bit of support as they explore the entirety of this increased online behavior and behavior between children and adults at home.

The issue of child sexual abuse is perplexing, and social distancing may intensify a few risks for minors while alleviating others. As most instances of child sexual abuse occur outside of the setting of the family, so-called extrafamilial offenses perpetrated by people who are not family members. It is expected that rates of extrafamilial offenses will drop under social distancing rules.

Letourneau suggests that these risks can be confronted if parents have open and frank discussions with their children about appropriate and wrong online behaviors and interactions. Through these discussions, guardians may turn out to be more aware of risky behaviors or wrong connections including their children.

In the midst of these increased risks, associations committed to preventing child sexual abuse like Stop It Now! have revealed increased traffic to their site pages for individuals who are worried about their sexual musings and behaviors.

Letourneau and her co-investigator, Michael Seto from the Royal Ottawa Healthcare Group decided to make a resource page for individuals who may be at risk of offending. Letourneau and her Moore Center partners chose to debut their Help Wanted prevention course early.

Letourneau says, “The stigma associated with having a sexual interest in children is tremendous, but having the attraction does not doom a person to acting on that attraction. Many people make the decision to keep children safe and to keep themselves safe by not acting on it. They need support.”

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The Help Wanted course is intended for individuals who self-recognized as having sexual interest for kids and who are searching for help managing those emotions, stigma, or different concerns. It contains five meetings that can be accessed anonymously and in any request. 

The meetings are focus on issues like understanding sexual abuse, developing healthy sexual behaviors, coping with an attraction to children, and leading nonoffending lives.

Letourneau says that inadequate resources go to supporting survivors, and there’s not almost a sufficient spotlight on avoidance. Some portion of their main goal is to enable general society to comprehend that child sexual abuse is a preventable general health issue. There is nothing inescapable about it.


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