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What You May Not Know….. A message from the Children of Phoenix Founder on child sexual abuse in Australia

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What you may not know …..

The sexual abuse of children remains one of the most urgent and unremitting issues across the globe.

The current Royal Commission Inquiry into child sexual offending in institutional settings (Australia) has given national currency to an entrenched and critical social problem.

While the current and ongoing Royal Commission is viewed by many as an unprecedented examination of child sexual abuse in this country, the reality is that it avoids any focus or recognition of where the majority of child sexual abuse occurs, which is within a family setting.

Child sexual abuse is a heinous and shocking crime, however history reveals an ongoing propensity for society and governments to avoid a thorough examination of the social institution of family as a site where the greatest forms of violence and offending against children occur (Taylor, 2014).

This has enormous ramifications both for our understanding of child abuse and where the greatest risks lie.  The general public’s concerns about child sex offenders and ‘paedophiles’ as mostly males who target other people’s children has funneled the focus in ways that, whilst highlighting the presence and prevalence of child sexual abuse, have negated in many ways the reality of where child sexual offending is likely to occur and who is likely to be responsible.

Child sexual abuse and concern by the community about keeping children safe from such abuse have tended to generate a fixation with adult males who come into contact with children in settings outside of the immediate family.  Whilst children must be protected from offenders, this fixation has avoided looking closer to home, as it were (Taylor, 2014).

As it stands, the voices and experiences of the majority of child sexual abuse victims are silent because they have no government or public inquiry into their abuse at the hands of parents and other family members.  A large body of peer reviewed research highlights that trauma from child abuse is greatest for children abused by a parent following closely by those abused by another family member.

The trauma impact and social impacts across the lifespan are greatest for those abused within a family setting as the majority of victims are expunged by their family of origin; locked out of access to family resources or support; lose a sense of belonging, place and family biography that is shown to have devastating lifelong and generational impacts.

Every form of child abuse is an abhorrent attack on the physical, psychological and spiritual integrity of the child.  However as a society we need to have the courage and willingness to bear witness to the silent majority in this country and around the globe who have no government pushing for a royal commission into intrafamilial child abuse; no media interested in addressing the issue with the same rigor as other forms of abuse; no lawyers interested in pursing offenders for civil remedies to help victims rebuild lives because there are no corporate or business assets to go after in family related child sexual abuse.

Please help us be part of a voice for every child.

Professor S. Caroline Taylor AM

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