July 22, 2014

‘Fewer cases of sexual abuse of boys reported’

Between the Lines - An Analysis of Media Report on Child Sexual Abuse

Since the year 2006, Arpan has carefully recorded and documented incidents of Child Sexual Abuse as reported in some of the leading newspapers of Mumbai. This study is an analysis of the trends and patterns found in such newspaper reports between the years of 2007 and 2011.

‘Fewer cases of sexual abuse of boys reported’
Times of India 21st July, 2014

MUMBAI: If the media is a mirror to society, how well does Mumbai's media reflect the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the world around us? An analysis of news reports from 2007 to 2011 shows that a very small proportion of boys facing abuse was reflected in mainstream media. An even lower figure of female abusers was reported. Much coverage on child sexual abuse focused on metropolitan cities. Non-contact forms of abuse, such as showing a child pornography or flashing, were under-represented in the media.

These are some findings of a recent report by NGO Arpan, which analyzed media reportage on child sex abuse.

While the analysis focused on media here, not surprisingly 51% of cases reported were from the city itself. However, of the remaining reports, an overwhelming majority was from other metropolitan cities, while only 4% was from the rest of Maharashtra. "This points to a trend where issues of cosmopolitan/metropolitan cities get greater prominence over occurrences in smaller cities, towns and villages," the report said.

In 10% cases, the report said that either the victim or perpetrator are in some way identified, such as the name of the school to which the child belongs and standard the child is studying in, as well as the victim's address. "Though the press is prohibited from reporting certain details, specifically names of child victims, offenders and witnesses or any other details that have the probability of revealing the victim's identity; this is not followed strictly in all cases. The restriction on publication of identifying details of child sex abuse victims exist to protect the victims' identity and as this may discourage other victims to come forward and report," the study said.

Of the reports, only 8% were of boys who were sexually abused. "This is because of fewer cases of sexual abuse of boys coming out in the open. This is not surprising as sexual abuse of boys is often underreported, under-recognized, and under-treated," the report said.

The study showed that most news reports are triggered by incidents and do not tackle the wider issues and why it occurs. The report called for more analysis within mainstream media on issues of prevention when it comes to child sex abuse.

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