Young boys break silence on sex abuse

15 April 2015 - 09:13 By KATHARINE CHILD

Boys under 12 are 10 times more likely to report sexual abuse than girls, according to a Wits University study that followed children from birth to the age of 20. The study, Birth to Twenty, tracked children born in 1990. Most of them were born in Soweto; others were brought up in Eldorado Park and elsewhere in the south of Johannesburg.Writing in this month's edition of the SA Medical Journal, the researchers report on the sexual behaviour of the children when they reached their teens.They note that during the study many boys reported that they had been raped.It seems there is "an unrecognised high incidence of abuse of young boys", said the report's author, Linda Richter, of the Human Sciences Research Council.Teddy Bear Clinic director Shaheda Omar said: "The fact that boys are as vulnerable to abuse as young girls is becoming recognised."We see it all the time but boys are often reluctant to break the silence because of ideas such as that boys can't be sissies or 'boys don't cry'."Operation Bobbi Bear founder Jackie Branfield said children were never abused by strangers."It is always someone known to them," she said. "Paedophiles hang around at boys' football clubs, lifesaving clubs and Scout halls."She said it was difficult for anyone to report abuse when the police asked girls as young as four questions such as: "Why didn't you run away?"It is much harder for boys to report abuse because they are seen as strong enough to get away from the abuser or fight back, she explained."Girls are forgiven for not fighting back."Branfield said that last year she worked with an adult male victim of rape but could not convince him to report the crime. He was too ashamed to admit what had happened and that he was not strong enough to fight off the rapist.Former Childline director Joan van Niekerk said boys were abused as much as girls but society was not open to them reporting abuse."Boys are not reporting sexual abuse and therefore do not receive services. Our services are not boy friendly and boy children are often mocked for disclosure."

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