Psychologist Suzi Chantre said today, in Praia, that families should start talking openly about the sexual abuse of minors, as it is a recurrent practice in Cape Verdean society with a strong incidence within the family.
For the psychologist, one of the ways to prevent sexual abuse of minors is to educate them, leaving them with the wisdom that demonstrations of affection and love do not involve touching the intimate parts, stressing that there is no well-defined age to start a conversation about sexuality with the children, “the important thing is to know how to identify the level of understanding” of the individual.
Suzi Chantre also left psychological and physical symptoms that children normally have when they are victims of sexual abuse which, as she added, does not only include penetration.
The specialist was speaking to Inforpress within the framework of the first International Congress on Mental Health in Cape Verde, which takes place on the 24th and 25th of November, aiming to bring the issue of mental health to the agenda, in which she will address sexual violence in children and adolescents, a problem that is very present in Cape Verdean society, although it is considered one of the “most serious violations” of children’s rights.
Still on prevention, Suzi Chantre added that raising awareness and providing information to communities and families continue to be the best ways of preventing, showing the population that it is a “very present problem and that it is necessary to be attentive”.
“It is necessary to openly address this issue in families, because even society, families do not speak openly about sexual abuse and this must be included in families’ dialogues. Family members should keep in mind that sexual abuse is a topic of conversation just like the others, since it is a situation that happens on a daily basis, “she said.
During his presentation, he also said, he will focus on the study carried out in Cape Verde in 2017: “Diagnosis on the profile of those convicted of sexual crimes against minors” which shows that, as in other places, most cases of sexual violation of minors in the country takes place within the family.
“It is very present in families in economically vulnerable situations, but it happens in all social classes, to say that the act is related to the care of children and adolescents, it is necessary to be present, the monitoring of minors”, emphasized Suzi Chanter.
As he highlighted, there are homes where there is no frequent dialogue, that parents and guardians are not actually present in the lives of children, which makes them vulnerable, prone to this type of abuse and violation of their rights.
He also pointed out that there are several symptoms that the victim presents and it is necessary to be alert to identify them, since children and adolescents are not always able to talk about this event that is fraught with suffering, psychological and physical consequences, affecting “suddenly” their behavior.
“For example, when you identify a child’s behavior that is different from the usual, you have to help him because that different behavior is already a request for help. They are children who start to get irritated easily, cry for no apparent reason, who go back to wetting the bed, children who have nightmares, who develop difficulties in sleeping, decrease in school performance”, children who avoid places where they suffer abuse, for example if it is at home, they prefer to be in other places and not at home”, specified the psychologist.
Any behavior that does not fit into the individual’s age group is a warning sign, because, explained Suzi Chantre, not all rape encompasses penetration “which is more visible”, and there is exposure of the child to sexualized scenarios.
“With regard to physical signs, care must be taken when the child begins to complain of abdominal pain, has traces of blood on the clothes, black marks on the body, dresses inappropriately for the occasion (for example, it is very hot, but wears coats ), if it is someone close to them, they begin to reject the presence of the person, they can verbalize expressions of a sexual nature”, he exemplified.