Are Boys at Greater Risk for Sexual Abuse?

The City Journal, a newspaper in Kerala, India, recently ran a story whose headline boldly claimed "More boys than girls facing sexual abuse!" The story grabbed my attention for a couple of reasons; first, it brought home the point that sexual abuse of our children is a global problem, and secondly, it brought up some excellent thoughts about the difference in attitudes between boys and girls. 

It isn't that we don't want to protect our sons; of course, we want to safeguard each and every one of them. But we do tend to see boys as being more resilient, more independent and more durable than our daughters. Parents may be more willing to let their boys participate in activities without fully checking out who they're going with, who else will be there, what is planned. And, when abused, statistics show us that boys are less likely to tell. 

Although many women will stay silent about their abuse, far more boys will grow into men who never tell. That secrecy destroys not just their past, but their present and future as well. It's no wonder, then, that 50 percent of men who were sexually abused as children will contemplate suicide, and 20 percent will attempt it. 

All of our children deserve protection. They deserve a childhood free from abuse. It's time we start truly paying attention to the world our sons, grandsons, nephews, etc. are growing up in – and start making sure we are doing everything in our power to keep it safe.

To do that, the organization Darkness To Light (www.darkness2light.org) recommends the following:

1. Learn the facts and understand the risks.

2. Minimize opportunity by eliminating or reducing one adult/one child situations.

3. Talk about it.

4. Stay alert to changes in your child's behavior.

5. Make a plan.

6. Act on suspicions.

7. Get involved – support organizations that fight child sexual abuse. 

Learn more by visiting Darkness2light.org and downloading their guide, "7 Steps to Protecting Our Children."

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