The New Silence: Family Breakdown and Child Sexual Abuse.

Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Sammut, Jeremy.
Author (Organization)
The Centre for Independent Studies (Australia).
Resource Type
Resource Format
This report discusses the incidence of child sexual abuse in families in which children do not live with both biological parents and the silence surrounding the link between family breakdown and child sexual abuse in Australia. The need for a government-commissioned, anti-child sexual abuse public information campaign based on pro-marriage campaigns in the United States is emphasized. It begins with information on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and its lack of focus on familial sexual abuse that accounts for an estimated 70 to 80% of cases of child sexual abuse. Research findings on the impact of family structure on child sexual abuse are then shared and indicate: children who do not live with both biological parents are at significantly greater risk of being sexually abused, especially by men living in their homes who are not their father; and girls living in non-traditional families have been found to be sexually abused by their "stepfathers," either the married, cohabiting, or casual partner of a divorced or single mother, at six to seven times the rate girls are sexually abused by their natural fathers in intact families. Reasons for the scant attention given to the link between family structure and child sexual abuse are then discussed, as well as the impact of the silence. The need to advertise the risks of non-traditional families is then stressed and examples of anti-teen pregnancy materials in the United States are provided. The brief concludes that cultural politics should be set aside and a public information campaign promoting a pro-responsibility, pro-marriage and pro-child message should be established. 71 references.

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