There has been concern recently in Australia about the sexual abuse of children. As a society, we are now talking more freely about child abuse, child neglect and physical and sexual abuse, which were not really recognized or discussed in previous times.
Child abuse and neglect continues to be Australia’s greatest social problem. Over recent weeks, we have again been shocked by graphic accounts of appalling instances of abuse and neglect of children across the nation.
1. There have been 266,745 accounts of child abuse in 2005-06, an increase of 93% since 2001-02.
2. More than 550,000 children in Australia were being neglected every year.
3. Up to 20% of children are being sexually, physically, or mentally abused or neglected every year.
4. There are 3,000 children, some younger than 10, in the Australian sex industry, which includes brothels, escort work, street prostitution, pornography, sex for favors and stripping.
5. More than 3100 Australian children aged 12-18 sold sex to survive.
6. Children younger than 10 were involved in organized pedophile rings.
The main reasons children were sold for sex were for accommodation, food, alcohol, clothes and drugs.
Parents are more likely to be financially stressed as they have low incomes at times they are also socially isolated. These factors contribute towards child abuse, as they feel ignored from their parents.
Australia’s 1994 anti-child sex tourism law too has not been properly enforced.
Reasons for the decrease in convictions is due to may factors, including the decrease in age of victims, as children may seem confused, inability of judges and courts to effectively handle juvenile victims, lag time in prosecutions of cases, and the justice systems lack of knowledge regarding children’s needs.
Child sexual abuse must not be tolerated or excused at any cost. Conviction of offenders is not simple, even in the minority of cases in which there is clear medical evidence, as, apart from the child, there are usually no witnesses. Nevertheless, the change in the judicial attitude to child sexual abuse is expected to result in a reduction in incidence.