The recent string of major child sexual assault scandals, in Australia and other countries, can create a feeling of disgust and an urge to look away from an ugly reality. Yet we must confront and take collective responsibility for child protection by acknowledging that it happens every day and that we have to talk about it. Societal silence on child sexual abuse protects perpetrators and enables abuse to continue.
Child sexual assault is a lot more common than we may think. The Australian Institute of Family Studies reported in 2013 that as many as one in six boys and one in three girls has experienced sexual abuse.
Most recently, the media reported sexual exploitation on a mass scale of an estimated 1,400 children in Rotherdam, UK, between 1997 and 2013, and the failure of social services and the police to intervene appropriately. The Rotherdam report is full of examples of how children were groomed for eventual abuse in public view, receiving inappropriate gifts and attention from men.