I have been in private practice over 7 years and have treated many people of all ages for depression, anxiety, weight loss and many phobias. This year I have had an influx of children from secondary education suffering from high anxiety and depression due to the pressures of academic achievement and most worrying, from sexual assault within school grounds. They are too scared to report it to their parents or teachers because of the shame, repercussions and potential bullying. Of course I am unable to name clients or schools because of confidentiality, but urge parents to talk to their children and find out if this could be one of the reasons why their child is refusing to go to school.
You are not going to stop boys and girls accessing the internet for porn, but you can talk to them about what is fantasy and what is reality. If we are more open with our children about their sexuality and the act of sex, which should not be a taboo subject, they would come to us with their problems. If our children are more informed, they can make the right decisions about who they are and not to listen to the bullies at school. If you empower your children to stay true to themselves, they will stop worrying or feel anxious about what others think of them.
Remember bullies feed off fear and need others to follow them, but if we teach our children empowerment and to be kind, thoughtful, polite and respectful, these bullies will soon realise they are the ones in the minority. We all have to lead by example. Remember behaviours and beliefs come from our parents, good and bad. You can change habits and behaviours to improve who you are. Don’t live in the past, help your children push towards a great future.
I have two children and have always talked to them openly about sex and potential problems they may face in the world. Both of them still come to me even though they are now both working in London because they feel very comfortable talking about all sorts of subjects without recourse.
There has been some research on sexual assault on school, college and university campuses, which highlights the confusion or lack of knowledge on, ‘what is the understanding of the nature of sexual assault?’
Sexual assault is defined as “any non-consensual sexual act, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.” The terms sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual coercion, and sexual abuse are sometimes used interchangeably, but sexual assault denotes a type of sexual violence or abuse, specifically in that the sexual event or behaviour lacks explicit consent e.g., rape, attempted rape, and non-consensual kissing, fondling, rubbing, or sodomy, (Shortway, Oganesova and Vincent, 2019).
There are a range of crimes that can be considered as sexual offences, including non-consensual crimes such as rape or sexual assault, crimes against children including child sexual abuse or grooming, and crimes that exploit others for a sexual purpose, whether in person or online.
Crimes can occur between strangers, friends, acquaintances, current or ex-partners, or family members. The passage of time does not prevent the effective prosecution of sexual offences, and an increasing number of cases referred to the CPS by police feature allegations of a non-recent nature.
Sexual offences are prosecuted as part of the CPS Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy. This is an overarching framework to address crimes that have been identified as being committed primarily but not exclusively by men against women.
These crimes include domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences, stalking, harassment, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence including forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child abuse, human trafficking focusing on sexual exploitation, prostitution, pornography and obscenity.
This CPS approach to VAWG crimes follows United Nations conventions which the UK government has ratified, and which inform the cross-government VAWG framework. However, the Annual Violence Against Women and Girls report published by the CPS includes data on all perpetrators and victims, irrespective of gender. The CPS is determined to secure justice for all victims, and recently reaffirmed our commitment to male victims, (Cps.gov.uk, 2019).
Please keep children safe and start to communicate. Active listening is so important and giving your children good communication skills helps them to fit into society.
Cps.gov.uk. (2019). Sexual offences | The Crown Prosecution Service. [online] Available at: https://www.cps.gov.uk/sexual-offences [Accessed 25 Sep. 2019].
Shortway, K., Oganesova, M. and Vincent, A. (2019). Sexual Assault on College Campuses: What Sport Psychology Practitioners Need to Know. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, [online] 13(2), pp.196-215. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1123/jcsp.2018-0053 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2019].