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Sexual Abuse Between Children and the Compensation Available to Victims

Sexual Abuse Between Children and the Compensation Available to Victims

When we talk of child sexual abuse, we tend to think of children being abused by adults. That is certainly the case, but unfortunately such behaviour is not restricted to adults alone, as young people also sexually abuse other children.

Young people abusing other children is increasing, when you compare the figures alongside other types of youth offences. Between one fifth and one third of child sexual abuse involves other children and adolescents as offenders. Between 2009 and 2010, over 200,000 sexual offences were recorded in the UK.

Children who sexually abuse other children

As to why children abuse their peers, one should not assume that their acts are sexually motivated. There are other motivating factors, one example being power and control which seems to be an important driver. However, other factors, such as fulfilling a need for comfort and pleasure and meeting a fundamental human need that is not currently being met, are important too. An absence of a loving home environment may be a trigger. It is also the case that some abuse is committed because of jealousy of a sibling. Interestingly, research shows that boys who abuse because of jealousy are less likely to abuse outside the family unit.

When we talk of sexual abuse of children, we include the following:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Sexually aggressive language
  • Preoccupation with pornography
  • Genital injury to others
  • Encouraging others to behave sexually
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Indecent exposure

It is frequently heard that those who abuse, have been victims of abuse themselves. Whilst that may be the case, one should not automatically jump to this conclusion as it could well be wrong. A study by Vizard et al in 2007 found of 280 children and adolescents surveyed with harmful sexual behaviour, 59% had experienced neglect and 74% emotional abuse.

Similarly, perhaps there is an assumption that if someone commits an act of sexual abuse, there is a significant risk that they will go on to reoffend in adult life. However, evidence indicates reconviction of a non-sexual offence is more common than sexual offences.

It is argued that young people who engage in an intervention programme are less likely to sexually reoffend. That being the case, it is extremely disappointing that we see mental health services being cut. Research undertaken by Young Minds in 2014, revealed that more than half of local authorities had cut or frozen budgets for child and adolescent mental health care. Of the 99 councils, who responded out of 151, it was noted that over half had made cuts in the previous five years.

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of Young Minds, said that “children and young people’s mental health services have been chronically underfunded for decades.”

One must credit Nick Clegg for raising the issue of mental health in the last Parliament, but unfortunately not all politician’s words is translated into adequate resources being deployed into mental health services.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive at MIND, said, “The treatment gap for mental health is huge-75% of people with mental health problems get no help at all.”

The average age of a young person showing signs of inappropriate sexual behaviour is 14 or 15 years, although signs can be seen in those before their tenth birthday.

Viewing of pornography by children appears to impact on sexual behaviour. A paper by Marshall (2000) shows that exposure to pornography can directly influence offending behaviour. Adolescent boys’ porn viewing increased sexual aggression six fold. As to why pornography has the effect of causing such behaviour, apparently it is due to the fact that the subject of pornography as seen as having less of a mind, less competence, less sensitivity to pain and less deserving of moral treatment.

Sexual abuse at any age is distasteful and perhaps even more shocking when it is between young people. Victims and young predators alike need support, but with Government spend on public expenditure a constant target of cuts, there will be many young people who will not receive the support they need. Without that support, there must be a significant risk of long term difficulties and cost to the public purse. It makes far more sense for proper investment in our mental health services, for the benefit of all.

Support for victims of sexual abuse

If you have been physically or sexually abused, whether by an adult or a young person, contact us. Our team of specialist qualified child abuse lawyers can provide help and advice, seeking to help you beyond the law. Our personal injury specialists take a compassionate and caring approach to all claims for abuse, acting for children and adults. Contact us on 01895 207835 or 01895 207 295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details of your situation to PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.