USJ study finds out 28% victims of child abuse under 12 years of age, 94% abused by known persons

USJ study finds out 28% victims of child abuse under 12 years of age, 94% abused by known persons

USJ study finds out 28% victims of child abuse under 12 years of age, 94% abused by known persons

Written by Amani Nilar

09 Feb, 2022 | 11:39 am

COLOMBO (News 1st); A study conducted by researchers of the University of Sri Jayawardenpura underlines that 27.9% of victims who were subjected to sexual abuse are those who are under 12 years of age.

The research, conducted by Dr Y. M. Rohanachandra, I. Amarabandu of USJP, and Dr. P. Dassanayake of Colombo South Teaching Hospital, titled ‘Child sexual abuse presenting to a teaching hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka’ highlights that 94.5% of the abusers were known to the child at the time of abuse, while delayed disclosure was significantly high in penetration abuse, multiple incidents of abuse and abuse by a known person.

Furthermore, in 31.1% of the cases, the victim had been threatened and 15.2% of the cases had been rewarded with a toy or food. The time taken to reveal the abuse ranged from immediately after the incident to more than a year.

The majority (40.9%) of the children had revealed about the incident to the mother, followed by grandmother (13.4%) and sister (9.1%). Delayed disclosure was significantly higher in children who suffered penetrative abuse.

Those who had multiple incidents of abuse were usually abused by a known person, according to the study.

The study further mentions that a higher prevalence in child sexual abuse has been reported in Northern Sri Lanka, an area which has been affected by the civil war and in areas associated with the tourism industry.

Another important factor to note was that 30% of the subjects, who are all under the age of 16, were not attending school.

Psychological consequences were seen in 28.7% of the children, with depression being the most common (8.5%), followed by adjustment disorder (7.3%) and acute stress reaction (6.7%).

Moreover, psychological consequences were significantly higher in victims who had physical evidence of abuse , delayed (after 1 week) disclosure of the incident and in children who did not disclose the abuse spontaneously.

The study goes on to note that not attending school may also be a risk factor for child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka, and gender inequality within the education system may be a possible explanation as a significantly higher number of females were not attending school compared to males in the study.

Further, children and adolescents were found to have disclosed to their mothers the most, followed by their grandmothers. The study mentions that since grandmothers, as representatives of extended family in Sri Lankan culture, often plays a greater role in a child’s life, especially in mothers’ absence, may be a reason for this.

The full research article can be accessed via;

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