60% of child abuse victims in Guyana are 13 yrs or younger – ChildLink

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A recent study conducted by ChildLink Guyana found that just over 60 per cent of child abuse victims are 13 years old or younger.

According to the document, the study was conducted using the first 338 reports of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) received by the Child Advocacy Centres (CACs) operated by ChildLink in Guyana, as well as research interviews with teenage CSA victims and their supportive caretakers.

The study found that 60.9 per cent of children reported that they first suffered abuse at the age of 13 or younger, while 26 per cent of the cases reported were children who first suffered abuse at the age of 10 or below.

ChildLink also noted in its report that of the 338 children referred to its CACs during the target years, 41 were boys, which accounted for 12 per cent.

When it comes to the abusers, the child agency revealed that many of the children said they were abused by more than one offender. A breakdown of figures was done by the agency which disclosed that a whopping 84 per cent of child victims alleged abuse by family members or known persons from the community.

Male members of the child’s immediate or extended family, such as a father or stepfather, uncle, step-uncle or cousin, a brother-in-law or grandfather made up the second largest category of abusers which accounted for 40 per cent of those cases.

“Stepfathers (12.4 per cent) fathers (6.8 per cent) and brothers (6.2 per cent) alone make up more than one quarter of the abusers reported to the CACs. Type of Abuse: Fully 57.7 per cent of the victims reported to the CACs had experienced forcible rape, which means physically forced penetration of the child’s vagina, anus or mouth with the abuser’s penis, finger, or an object.

18.9 per cent of the victims reported to the CACs had experienced sexual contact, consisting of intentional touching of their breasts, bottoms or genitals, underneath their clothing, or being made to touch the abuser’s genitals. 12.4% of the participants experienced statutory rape.

That is, they were considered below the age of consent (in Guyana the age of consent is 16 years), and were coerced into participating in sexual acts by an older person. In some instances, threats of violence formed part of the coercion. 4.4 per cent of the children referred to the CAC were victims of penetrative sexual abuse by an older brother or stepbrother,” the report reads.

On the other hand, 42 per cent of abusers were non-family members who were known to their victims, such as community members, family friends, or service providers and professionals such as teachers, pastors, or bus conductors. Important to note is that only one of the abusers mentioned in the 338 reports was a woman.

According to ChildLink, child sexual abuse is one of the most devastating forms of violence a person can suffer. Without adequate intervention, sexual abuse may permanently change a child’s life’s course, with echoes throughout the child’s family, community and nation.

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