Children being used as pimps – Psychologist
Passing around pornographic material recorded in private and exposing children to sexually explicit videos and other material of a sexual nature are considered sexual abuse.
Psychologist Kimberly Cambridge noted this last week Tuesday during a workshop held to discuss sexual violence and abuse in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Attached to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), Cambridge said that she deals with children with behavioural and developmental disorders who quite often are victims of rape.
She noted that when persons come to the psychology department, there have been instances where children, teenagers, and older persons have been used as sexual objects in videos and photos that are sent around and that is considered sexual assault and abuse.
Cambridge added also that at the department, they have seen an increase in the knowledge young children have about very graphic sexual acts and they consider that to be sexual abuse also.
She stressed that exposure to sexual material (photos, radio, text messages, DVDs) is sexual abuse and many times, they see parents exposing children to pornographic material that the parent may be looking at.
“Children pick up that information and they take it into the schools and that ends up being a problem, especially if the children start to mimic what they see on the TV or the laptops on the children they interact with at school,” said Cambridge.
She added that at times, parents and guardians expose children to specific sexual acts, and that is abuse also.
Cambridge noted that in some cases, parents have sexual intercourse in front of the child because they share the same room due to the economic situation, and they think the child is asleep when they are awake and watching.
“There are also things like intrusive touching of a child on their genitals or other areas that the child does not want to be touched,” said Cambridge.
The psychologist also noted that there are signs that teachers and counsellors could look for in children.
These signs include bad behaviour, disassociation, inexplicable anger, excessive sexually inappropriate behaviour, mutism and self-harm.
“Disassociation is if a child is starting to stare off into space, not focussed and not present in the moment, not tuning in…; excessive sexually inappropriate behaviour, everything is a sexual joke to these children. Mutism, the child goes quiet but was bubbly before and then overnight nothing,” explained Cambridge while adding they have been consistently seeing self-harm/children who cut themselves.
She said they have seen cutting in the sexually abused children as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and low self-esteem. Other signs also include finger sucking, playing with hair, clinginess and regression.
Cambridge added that child sexual abuse is not typically done by parents, but many cases occur through the family set-up and are carried out by friends of the family (predominantly somebody at home or comes to visit the home), clergy members and classmates while “one or two” are carried out by strangers.
“Predators sometimes go after single mothers to get to child. They stalk the mother, get close and build trust and when the guard is down, they strike,” explained Cambridge.
She said also that a major issue is boys being sexual aggressive and persons seeing it as “boys being boys”.
“The vast majority of these little boys have been sexually abused, said Cambridge who also spoke about hebephilia, (the sexual preference for early adolescent children, roughly ages 11 to 14).
“This is where we see predominantly … [most of] our sexual abuse victims, quite a number.
“They will pursue sexual interaction with children in this age range and forget about anything that has to do with a relationship with an older person. There are situations where there are men in society, they don’t grow mentally; this is a disorder and they don’t mature and leave the age group alone,” said Cambridge.
Psychologist Dr Jozelle, addressing the forum, also noted that date rape is becoming an issue in SVG with young people under the age of 16.
“We are seeing a rise in sexual abuse here. We have been seeing that. We have some little kids who are also pimps,” said Dr Miller.
She said these children may befriend a vulnerable child in the class and introduce him or her to their family or friend and these children may be invited to the home of their friend where the abuse takes place.
“Little boys are being preyed upon as well,” stressed Miller who added that there is a common thread, where you hear of children being in sexual relationships from the age of 12.
“At 12 you cannot be in a consensual sexual relationship, that is statutory rape,” stressed Miller.