Jamaica Gleaner

Blind to abuse!

Moth­ers not re­port­ing fathers and step­fa­thers who are sex­u­ally abus­ing their chil­dren

- ryon.jones@glean­erjm.com

THE OF­FICE of the Chil­dren’s Reg­istry is re­port­ing an in­crease in the num­ber of com­plaints of fathers and step­fa­thers sex­u­ally mo­lest­ing their chil­dren, and it ap­pears that more moth­ers who are aware of the crime are turn­ing a blind eye.

“We at the Of­fice of the Chil­dren’s Reg­istry would have seen an in­creased num­ber of al­le­ga­tions against par­ents, and more so fathers who would have sex­u­ally mo­lested their chil­dren,” reg­is­trar, Greg Smith, told The Sun­day

Gleaner last week, as he noted that mere ba­bies are in­cluded in those abused.

“It is a con­cern to us, so we are not only fo­cus­ing on pri­mary school chil­dren, but we are also now go­ing at early child­hood. We are now part­ner­ing with the Early Child­hood Com­mis­sion ... be­cause the cases are now com­ing in.”

An in­ves­ti­ga­tor at­tached to the Child De­vel­op­ment Agency later charged that in some in­stances where fathers and step­fa­thers are abus­ing the chil­dren, the mother is well aware of the crime but does not in­ter­vene for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.

MO­LESTED EARLY

“In one case a girl was mo­lested from she was a tod­dler un­til we re­moved her at around age five. Not only her anatomy was dam­aged from the sex­ual abuse, as when she went to school they de­tected cer­tain things, but she also had a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tion,” said the in­ves­ti­ga­tor who asked not to be named.

“Our nor­mal and other peo­ple’s nor­mal are two dif­fer­ent things, and talk­ing to this mother (we found out that) she had been mo­lested by her fa­ther. So even though she knew what her baby­fa­ther was do­ing she re­ally didn’t think any­thing was wrong with it, be­cause she sur­vived incest. It is for some­body on the out­side to come in and coun­sel with them and say ‘no we can’t al­low this’.”

Chil­dren’s Ad­vo­cate Di­a­hann Gor­don Har­ri­son be­lieves it is a fea­ture of the Ja­maican so­ci­ety where hav­ing been abused as chil­dren some women be­come ac­cept­ing of abuse as a part of de­vel­op­ment.

“And so will have com­ments such as ‘it hap­pened to me and I came out fine, I didn’t die, so it is a part of life, this too will pass’, and he or she will

de­cide when they are adults,” said Gor­don Har­ri­son.

“Some­times there is also an eco­nomic fac­tor where the woman be­lieves that if she does any­thing to stop it the fam­ily will be jeop­ar­dised fi­nan­cially. Or the woman thinks if I al­low him to con­tinue to have his way with her then chances are he will stay around and she will con­tinue to have one ex­tra per­son to put food on the ta­ble. So it is a sad re­al­ity, but it ex­ists.”

For clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Karen Richards, while some par­ents who were abused as chil­dren do be­come de­sen­si­tised to sex­u­ally ex­ploita­tive or preda­tory be­hav­iour of adults around them, there are also many par­ents who, be­cause of their own history of abuse, have be­come hy­per-vig­i­lant, mis­trust­ful and ever watch­ful over their chil­dren and the pos­si­bil­ity of abuse.

“Our chil­dren are of­ten abused by the ones we trust the most: neigh­bours, pas­tors, teach­ers, rel­a­tives, that’s why the per­pe­tra­tor has ac­cess, and so in some in­stances the par­ent may be so con­vinced of the trust­wor­thi­ness of the adult that they doubt the child’s ac­count, or the child may not tell, fear­ing that the sta­tus and cred­i­bil­ity of the abuser is such that they (the child) would never be be­lieved,” said Richards.

“Also fear of the per­pe­tra­tor is a pow­er­ful si­lencer, co­er­cion and threats can be in­ter­twined with the de­sen­si­tis­ing ef­fects of groom­ing, the gen­tle in­tro­duc­tion of pornog­ra­phy, the con­cept of keep­ing a shared se­cret, sys­tem­atic and per­sis­tent vi­o­la­tion of phys­i­cal bound­aries, gifts and spe­cial treats, etc.

“In some cases, the sex­ual abuse of the child hap­pens as a part of an over­all con­text of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, re­sult­ing in even other adults in the home be­ing fear­ful of the abuser.”

In the mean­time, psy­chi­a­trist Pro­fes­sor Wen­del Abel says the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren has been ram­pant in our so­ci­ety from time im­memo­rial, but Ja­maicans are fi­nally reach­ing the stage where they are ma­ture enough to start talk­ing about and deal­ing with the mat­ter.

“The high level of teenage preg­nancy we have had in the coun­try for decades sug­gests that we have been deal­ing with this prob­lem of sex­ual abuse for gen­er­a­tions, and many per­sons will at­test to the fact that they are a prod­uct of a teenage mother and an adult male; that is sex­ual abuse,” said Abel.

 ?? FILE ?? Too many adults are hid­ing their faces when they see child abuse.
FILE Too many adults are hid­ing their faces when they see child abuse.

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