How we can stop children from sexually abusing other children
The list grows longer daily. Priests and politicians, childhood idols and television stars. Child abusers. Today, there was further evidence that there is no stereotype abuser, no easy e-fit to signal the danger to children – because today we are reminded that children sexually abuse children too.
8,000 children under the age of 18 have been accused of sexually abusing another child over the past two years, offences including serious sexual assault and rape.
The figures come as no surprise to Evelyn, a grandmother from the north west (we’re not using her real name). Her granddaughter was abused from the age of two for two years – her abuser, just a child himself, a boy known to the family who was just 13 years old.
Softly spoken and clearly keen to remain composed , Evelyn’s account of her granddaughter’s abuse is painfully graphic. The consequences have been immense not just for the little girl but for her whole family, something she wishes the abuser, whatever his young age, should understand.
“He’s got to learn that what happens to the child he’s abused doesn’t mean he’s just abused a body, he’s totally destroyed a mind, a family.”
Evelyn says her granddaughter became almost mute , then at turns angry and aggressive. For years she’s been plagued by nightmares, soiling herself in the street if she’d see someone who reminded her of the abuser.
But while Evelyn has raged against the boy and his family, she is desperate that he gets help.
“I got really angry – more angry that they tried to hide it and nothing’s been done for the boy as far as we know,” she told me. “He’s going to go on doing it because he’s not learnt that it’s wrong. ”
But she says there is hope – and the earlier the intervention, the better the chance that children can change course.
Of course that means children being referred to such a project in the first place – and that only happens if they’re caught or a parent or carer is brave enough to pick up the phone and seek help for their child.
Evelyn says she prays people will take that first step if they have any doubts about their child’s behaviour. Preventing other children becoming a victim like her granddaughter, depends on it.
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