Child Sexual Abuse


Dear colleagues and members,


Child sexual abuse, which we have frequently encountered in recent years, is gradually increasing its presence in our society as a bleeding wound.

The concept of “abuse” can be defined as any kind of behavior that negatively affects the growth and development of the child. Child abuse has been seen in every culture and society throughout the human history. Child abuse can be examined under several branches. It can be seen as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse and neglect. Although it is a common and important health problem, there are mostly deficiencies in its diagnosis and cooperation with the relevant specialties. Lack of evidence and incorrect information, cultural and traditional values may lead to ignorance of abuse. Child abuse is considered only when the child suffers from substantially severe traumas. When mild findings indicative of abuse are missed or not reported, vital negative consequences are observed and the child, victim of abuse, grows up with psycho-sociological problems.  Therefore, physicians, school counselors, especially pediatricians who most often encounter pediatric patients, and of course, the parents need to know the signs and symptoms of child abuse during its diagnosis and treatment. The child and the family which s/he lives with must undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The studies on child abuse have just started in Turkey, and they have mostly been led by experts specializing in forensic science, social pediatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry. It has been tried to be kept on the agenda with compilations and case presentations in various bulletins and forum journals. However, the number of scientific articles published due to the lack of cases is also very low and insufficient considering our country’s population. Although we are in the top 3 in child abuse in the world, the relevant non-governmental organizations and associations have initiated to be established only in the 90s. Unfortunately, there are only 3 associations dealing with this issue.

Izmir taking a leading part in all areas noticed the deficiency in this field and founded CIMDER, a Child Abuse Prevention Association, along with 17 founding members 20 February 2012. The association members include former ministers, parliamentarians, academics, physicians, lawyers, psychologists and psychiatrists, Sociologists and Social Service specialists, educators, sensitive and voluntary parents. I am also proud of being a founding member and secretary of this association.

As you know and follow in the press, sex crimes has increased in recent years and child sexual abuse takes place near the top. Childhood period is a process in which sexual development and enlightenment has not been yet completed. Any sexual abuse that especially arises from within the family during this period further aggravates the harm that may occur in the child. Sexual abuse leads to long-term emotional and behavioral effects, fear, depression, anger, hostility and inappropriate sexual behaviors in children. Children should therefore be believed to be capable of identifying or demonstrating sexual abuse and support should be sought from professionals. Children who are victims of sexual abuse become the offender of sexual abuse in the future.

It is hard to access actual epidemiological data for child sexual abuse. This is because only 15% of the victims report it and 85% of them remain hidden.  A compilation of a total of 24 studies published from 20 countries has reported that sexual abuse rates range from 7-36% for women and 3-29% for men. Sexual abuse is reported to be three times higher in girls and to be generally applied to younger children. According to the data, the rate of the first sexual abuse in younger children is about 70%, peaking at an average age of 8-12 years and significantly decreasing after 12 years of age. The abuser may be a stranger to the child or usually a person living around the child or a respected and liked person in the society. The studies conducted have showed that 40.7-66.7 of the abusers are familiar. They are generally reported to be men. Also adolescents have been estimated to perform 30-40% of sexual abuse.

According to the data of the General Directorate of Security Affairs in our country, 250 thousand of children have become the victims of this inhuman crime for the last 10 years. This crime has increased by 125% in the last 10 years. Of course, these are cases only submitted to the judicial authorities. That is, only 15% of the truth.

The Psychiatric Association of Turkey tells the rate of sexually abused children is 33% in Turkey. Also Betul Ulukol, Professor Doctor at Ankara University, reports that 150 thousand of children are sexually abused in our country.

The world average of child abuse is 20%. This means that one in 5 children is sexually abused.

According to the Official Statistics in our country: One in 4 girls and one in 6 boys are sexually abused.

There is not exact data about it in our country. This is because data collection is very difficult and it is also a subject considered as a taboo. It happens again to the children who are abused and oppressed.

Sexual abuse is not usually a one-off event. It is an ongoing phenomenon. We save the abused child’s life by early detection, immediate protection, treatment and rehabilitation without delay. We can provide her/him to overcome this trauma and have a normal and healthy life. Otherwise, physical and mental damages become permanent and we may lose that child in a sense.

The well-known scientist Shergold says:” Child Sexual Abuse is SPIRITUAL DEATH”.

Sexual Abuse is also Violence against Children!…Therefore, it is also a Social Health problem.

Child sexual abuse is an issue that we have remained incapable as both the society and the state, could not be institutionalized, and have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and made it domestic law, but have not fulfilled all of its requirements. As it is not only a matter to be disregarded with legislative regulations, but also requires a social awareness and institutions to operate efficiently and regularly.

We have great shortcomings in areas such as protection of our children from this crime, protection of legal rights of the victims, punishment of offenders, legal legislation, the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of the abused children, in order to fight against this problem.

We, as an association, organized panels with the help of our expert members and with the contributions of other Non-Governmental Organizations and Izmir Metropolitan Municipality. In addition, we carried out presentations and panels for parents and school counselors in some schools.

Many meetings were held with the governor of Izmir and other bureaucrats and they were asked to be more sensitive to this issue.

Lastly, Aliaga Children and Youth Penal Institution was visited with the participation of a committee found by the association, and the Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor of Izmir. The problems of the children who were pushed to crime were listened, and our opinions and suggestions were conveyed to our Ministry of Justice.

The problem belongs to all of us. Also our first aim should be to proceed together and decidedly.  Keep in mind that;

Children are the world’s greatest wealth.

Protecting the country begins with protecting the children. M.K Ataturk