The knowledge of parents in the military regarding child sexual abuse / Henliëtte Holm
The prevalence of child sexual abuse in South Africa is alarmingly high. Child protection officials’ task is challenging due to the fact that most cases of child sexual abuse are never reported as a result of the stigma attached to child sexual abuse. This article explains the vulnerable position of the children of uniform members of the military due to the fact that one or both parents are absent from the family due to fragmentation. Two main reasons are causing fragmentation. The first reason that can be mentioned is the fact that the soldier him–/herself has decided not to relocate the family to his/her workplace. Cultural beliefs, housing crisis or other practical challenges might play a role in the parent’s decision. The second reason for fragmentation is the fact that soldiers are obliged to attend military courses or to represent their country during a peace operation on the African continent. These military obligations cause physical and emotional absence of the parental figure, which might leave the child in a vulnerable position to fall victim to child sexual abuse. Fragmentation impacts negatively on the parental relationship as well as on the safety of the child. The deployed parent often is left with no choice but to unwittingly leave the child with a harmful caretaker. The aim of the study was to establish the knowledge of parents in the military regarding child sexual abuse. The objectives of the study were: · To investigate parents in the military's basic knowledge of child sexual abuse in preventing their children from falling victim to sexual perpetrators. · To provide guidelines to military parents for preventing and recognising child sexual abuse. Data collection took place by means of interviews with ten South African National Defence Force members. A self–developed interview schedule was used to establish the parent's knowledge regarding child sexual abuse. The results indicated the limited knowledge of parents in the military regarding child sexual abuse. Many parents viewed sexuality as a taboo topic. Some parents presented with an attitude that someone else is responsible for their child's sexual education. Still, the parents indicated that they would like to improve their communication with their children in order to empower and protect the child against sexual perpetrators.
- ETD@PUK