Researchers: In SA, Boys More Likely to be Sexually Abused Than Girls. 31/5/2016

Published by EYEWITNESSNEWS

Nearly 37 percent of boys
and 34 percent of girls have been sexually abused by the age of 17.

LONDON - Boys are
slightly more likely to be sexually abused than girls in South Africa,
where a third of all children have experienced some form of sexual abuse
in their lifetime, according to the first-ever national study of child
maltreatment.

Nearly 37 percent of boys and 34 percent of girls
have been sexually abused by the age of 17, either physically or in
non-physical ways - such as being forced to watch sexual acts, look at
genitalia or explicit material.

Girls were more likely to have
been sexually abused physically and boys more likely to have experienced
non-contact sexual abuse, researchers said in the study published on
Tuesday.

"Even though the forms the abuse takes may differ it can
nonetheless be equally harmful to the victim and should be treated just
as seriously," Ian Welle-Skitt, spokesman for UBS Optimus Foundation
which commissioned the research.

"This study puts South Africa in
line with the rest of the world, and challenges the myth that South
Africa is a more violent society than others," he told the Thomson
Reuters Foundation.

A similar study carried out in Switzerland by
UBS Optimus Foundation found that abuse between peers and cyber-abuse
was higher there than in South Africa.

There were more than
350,000 cases of sexual abuse among children in South Africa last year,
according researchers from the University of Cape Town, and the Cape
Town-based Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, who carried out the
study.

Only 31 percent of girls and no boys reported sexual abuse
to the police. Young males were especially reluctant to report any form
of abuse, the researchers found.

"The sexual abuse and
maltreatment of children is preventable, but until now, a lack of data
has hindered the development of systems needed to protect and support
children," they said.

The study found that when parents knew who
their children spent time with and where, they were less likely to
become victims of sexual abuse.

And a supportive relationship between parents and their daughters significantly lowered the risk for girls.

They recommended that teachers be trained in school safety and that children have classes on sex, gender and violence.

They also found substance abuse played an important role.

"Since
parental substance misuse is associated with sexual abuse of children,
one key preventive strategy is to make substance abuse treatment
programmes far more widely available and accessible than they are at
present," the researchers said.