November 24, 2023, 17:42

Psychologist: Most sexual abuse offenders against children are relatives and people in their immediate environment 

Despite the stereotyped belief that youth violence is mostly concentrated among adolescents, statistics show that it frequently affects children under the age of 10. And often, in particular, the adult acquaintance, relatives, and neighbors are the child sexual abuse perpetrators.

It was reported by Mariana Hevko, a psychologist at the Barnahus Child Advocacy Center, during a discussion within the framework of the country’s main discussion platform BrainHub at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform. 

“Based on the cases we have dealt with, it is important to understand that there is domestic violence and violence outside the home environment, including sexual violence. Most often, in practice, we see that exposure to violence, including child sexual abuse, is committed by close people, relatives–brothers, uncles, neighbors. As adolescents, they are sexually abused by a partner or acquaintance in a company, usually by perpetrators who are intoxicated. And these are usually trusted adults,” the psychologist noted.

According to her, despite the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations data, in fact, statistics on child abuse go unfixed, as children often do not disclose it to anyone, or adults, knowing about cases of violence, do not report such incidents to the relevant authorities and services. “From September 2021 to October 2023, 162 children got services at Barnahus centers across Ukraine, in all centers that are currently up and running. 83% of this number are child violence survivors, and 17% are children who witnessed violence. There is a separate statistics for the last six months on sexual violence. From March to November 2023, we’ve recorded 73 children who have been sexually abused–68 of them are victims and 5 witnesses. These are official statistics and these are criminal proceedings, these are cases that have been entered in the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations register,” she added.

It is worth noting that specialized interdisciplinary institutions based on the Barnahus Child Center model, which has been operating in Ukraine since 2021, assist child witnesses and child victims who are parties to criminal proceedings. In particular, the assistance is aimed at helping the child to undergo legal proceedings acts posing a minimal risk of re-traumatization, as well as to receive comprehensive psychological, social, legal, and medical assistance afterward. 

BrainHub is the country’s main discussion platform created by the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform. It brings together experts from the state and civil society sectors. BrainHub hosts intellectual discussions around the issues of the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. It’s the birthplace of the best ideas that will become the foundation for the road map of Ukraine’s reconstruction in all sectors: economy, infrastructure, education, agriculture, security, digital, etc. 

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