The Child sexual abuse reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Child sexual abuse

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Child sexual abuse is the involvement of children below a specified statutory age in sexual activities. Broad definitions include any kind of sexual activity, whereas narrow ones restrict the use of the term to cases with physical contact and against the will of the child. Children are persons before or at the beginning of adolescence. However statutory definitions of the age of consent widely vary.

Child sexual abuse is regarded as particularly reprehensible in many societies. It has been given much more attention in Western society since the late 1970s. Awareness of the problem has greatly increased. Critics have argued that in many cases, innocents have become victims of mass hysteria surrounding child sexual abuse. Psychological techniques involving discovery of child sexual abuse, including memory recovery, are considered highly questionable by some (see false memories, satanic ritual abuse, multiple personality disorder).

Table of contents
1 Motivation for outlawing sex with children
2 Offenders
3 Historical aspects
4 External link

Motivation for outlawing sex with children

Many acts like incest, sex in relationship of dependence and conventional rape that also violate other laws are charged as child sexual abuse. However child sexual abuse outlaws any kind of sexual activity including children.

Science could not find evidence that consensual sexual activity is causing harm to minors in studies, nor did it find a plausible mechanism on how harm could be caused. Child sexual abuse is considered a crime because of sexual morality. Children can only give simple but not informed consent to sexual activity. Therefore in many jurisdictions a person performing such acts with a minor commits statutory rape. A child can not even give informed consent to another child.

Critics, especially pedophile emancipation groups, disagree with labeling all child sexual activity as abuse. They say that the terms victim and perpetrator should not be used when talking about consensual acts. They argue that the informed consent argument ignores a child's right to sexual self-determination and only reinforces the existing sexual morality of a culture.

In Germany sex with children is outlawed, not because of the lack of informed consent, but in order to protect the undisturbed sexual development of the child, which means not having any sexual experiences. This is also reflected in the use of the term protection age () instead of age of consent. However, modern science does not support the idea of a sexual latency period (See: Child sexuality).


Most offenders are situational offenders (pseudopedophiles) rather than pedophiles. They are rarely strangers, but relatives or acquaitances like trainers or playmates.

"Children who molest"

A recent US trend within the treatment of child sexual abuse, starting perhaps in the early 1990s, is the focus on "juvenile sex offenders" or even children. The label "juvenile sex offender" is controversial because it is not only used to describe acts of violence, but also consensual acts that violate statutory rape laws. Similarly, many if not most "children who molest" are viewed by critics of this trend as simply sexually experimenting. Yet, in these cases, both therapy and detention are frequent consequences.

Therapies used even on young children have included controversial methods such as aversion therapy, where children are, for example, forced to smell ammonia while looking at nude pictures or to listen to audio tapes describing sexual situations. In order to measure sexual response, devices like penile plethysmographs and vaginal plethysmographs are sometimes used on these children.

Historical aspects

Though few doubt that child sexual abuse does occur and has negative effects on the children involved, there is much controversy over whether certain practices should be considered abuse. This is especially common when commentators examine rituals practiced in cultures geographically or temporally removed from their own. In many cases, rituals or ceremonies of cultural or religious significance involve activities that some describe as child sexual abuse. These include castration, circumcision (of males), female circumcision, infibulation, cutting and bleeding of the genitals and Chinese footbinding.

Pederasty in ancient Greece took on mystical significance, where semen from a noble man was believed to give arete to a young man through anal intercourse. This was part of a common practice in Greece where a noble man took on a young male as a student. This relationship was highly idealized in Greek culture and often involved sexual acts as mentioned. Since the practice was so widespread in ancient Greece, and there is no indication of any detractors at the time, many do not consider this an example of child sexual abuse (see moral relativism). Generally, people who hold this view believe that sexual acts can only be termed "abuse" if there is a victim who experiences negative effects as a result of the activities. Since there is no evidence of this occurring, many have concluded that this should not be considered abuse.

Circumcision is the practice of removing the foreskin of a male. Some consider this practice to be a type of child sexual abuse, though others claim that the negative effects associated with child sexual abuse do not occur with circumcision. See circumcision for a detailed description of this controversy. Similarly, the various "remedies" against masturbation which were proposed and used from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, ranging from physical restraints to castration, have been called sexual abuse, and the common practice of spanking (often on the nude bottom) has been claimed to have sexual undertones (see spanking for a discussion of the sexual fetish of spanking).

In ancient China, young girls often had their feet bound in a manner that caused the big toe to stick out. The enlarged toe served as a substitute penis for the girl. Some ancient Chinese texts describe using the big toe in sexual play, leading many researchers to conclude that the practice was abusive. Others doubt that statement, and claim that this was a standard and accepted practice, and did not cause the negative effects associated with modern child sexual abuse.

In some South Pacific island cultures, it was believed that young boys needed to swallow large amounts of semen, termed jerungdu, in order to properly mature sexually. This was accomplished by older boys receiving oral sex from the younger boys. However, again, this was the accepted norm in those societies.

See also

Other child links

External links

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