Assist those who abuse children

A Northern Caribbean University (NCU) professor is calling on the Government to provide medical assistance for individuals who have committed sexual crimes against children as she believes that such persons are mentally ill.

This comes after it was reported that over 3,200 children were sexually abused between January last year and March this year.

Associate professor in humanities, behavioural and social sciences at NCU, Dr Orlean Brown-Earle told the Jamaica Observer that she is not aware of any Government programme that aims to assist individuals who have sexually abused children, in an effort to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders.

“I’m not aware of any Government programmes that help these individuals. Clinical psychological care must be put in place for these individuals so they do not repeat these acts,” she said. “I think that persons who commit crimes such as these clearly have some mental health problems. They might not be schizophrenic, or they might not be depressed, but they do have some serious mental health problems,” Brown-Earle explained.

Adding that some abusers may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in which they themselves were molested and they never received the help they needed, Brown-Earle stated, “we need to get them clinical psychological care and possible psychiatry care, depending on what is happening with them. There is a reason for every behaviour, they need to find out what causes them to do these acts.”

Continuing, she noted that the possibility of someone being a repeat offender is “very likely” as this person receives some degree of satisfaction from their act, especially so, if they were never caught.

Speaking further on the issue, Brown-Earle encouraged parents to have good communication with their child, because often, the persons who commit these acts are close to the family.

“Any parent who learnt that their child has been molested or sexually harmed in any way, early intervention is needed. They should work with their child, talk with their child [and] they should make sure the child gets help as soon as possible…Family members are much more cooperative now, and are taking in their children to get long-term professional psychological care,” she said, as she explained that the earlier someone intervenes, the less chances of the child becoming seriously emotionally disturbed.

Citing a case where a child was molested, but did not confide in her mother, Brown-Earle said, “there was a case many years ago, where a child did not [talk about] her abuse to her mother, because the mother, in front of the child, threatened to kill anybody who hurt her daughter, sexually. The child was hurt sexually and never told her mother because she didn’t want her mother to go to jail.”

With this in mind, she advised parents and guardians to be mindful of how they voice their opinion on this issue so as not to discourage a child, who is being abused, from speaking out.

“Yes, the child must understand that it’s a bad thing, but we must be careful that we don’t make the child think that we are going to hurt ourselves by trying to protect their well-being and development, because children absorb everything,” she stated.

In addition, the associate professor explained that after being sexually abused, both the child and the family structure will be severely affected.

“It affects the child mentally, the loss of trust, the possibility of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) — possibly for life. The physical health issues, the mental health issues and emotional issues; the child can end up becoming depressed, presenting with post-traumatic stress disorder or any of the myriad of mental health problems. It can lead to a breakdown of the family, because of how mommy and daddy treated the situation,” Brown-Earle said.

Further expounding, Brown-Earle stated that the stigma associated with young boys being sexually assaulted is one reason a majority of the reported cases are from girls.

“The stigma with a boy being sexually assaulted is greater, because of the myth that he might become gay. We do find that parents are more likely to report the female assault than the male, and that can be a big problem because the boys don’t get into therapy. Sometimes we don’t get the boys until they are much older giving trouble and when you do the evaluation, you realise that this was the reason behind his behaviour,” she suggested.

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