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Tackling Child Sexual Abuse
Cover Stories Series 2015> Tackling Child Sexual Abuse
UPDATED: January 19, 2015 NO. 4 JANUARY 22, 2015
Better Protection for Children

In recent years, reports of children suffering sexual abuse have consistently been on the rise. From May 23, 2013 to May 22, 2014, 192 cases of suspected child sexual abuse were reported by the media. Of the 343 alleged victims involved, those aged from 8-14 years old accounted for 85.42 percent of the total.

Frequent outbreaks of such cases clearly point to shortcomings in the current laws and the measures being undertaken. Perhaps the most important of these measures is education for minors on safety and self-protection. Many children either have no idea of the hidden risks of sexual abuse to which they are exposed or do not know how to safeguard themselves. Such ignorance provides gaps for potential abusers to exploit and this may lead to repeated and prolonged instances of abuse over time.

Lack of basic guardianship is another direct contributing factor to child sexual abuse, according to a research report on the protection of girls published in September 2013. The report found that a large proportion of abuse victims are children who have no formal legal guardians, such as children in rural areas whose migrant worker parents have traveled to cities in search of employment and left them to the care of their grandparents or other relatives.

On June 1, 2013, over 100 female journalists launched the Protecting Girls charity program. The venture is dedicated to conducting sexual abuse prevention courses in primary schools, especially those in rural areas where there are a large number of children lacking parental care. Its long-term goal is to push the government to come up with concrete measures toward the protection of children from sexual abuse.

The program has provided sexual abuse awareness classes to more than 100,000 children in over 20 provinces and municipalities across China including Beijing, Shandong, Zhejiang, Guizhou and Yunnan, as well as distributing over 120,000 pamphlets on abuse prevention. It has trained nearly 1,000 volunteer teachers and cooperated with local government departments such as education bureaus to carry out sexual abuse prevention courses.

The program has formed its own teaching plan, the contents of which have been copyrighted. This plan incorporates accumulated experience and expertise in the field of child sexual abuse prevention both in China and around the world and has been modified over 40 rounds of drafting by a panel of more than 20 experts.

"The goal of the program is to proliferate knowledge on child safety and promote progress in the law with regard to child sexual abuse," said Sun Xuemei, one of the program's founders and leaders. It is hoped that such a goal will be embraced by the whole of society.

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