Change in behavior, secretiveness, social withdrawal among common alarming factors
In recent years, 10% annual increase in such cases has been reported in Pakistan
Psychiatrists on Friday expressed alarm over the lack of proper institutions and trained professionals to treat the trauma of sexually abused children, which if not timely treated, can seriously affect their physical health and education other than leading to criminal behaviour.
“In a joint family one out of every four children, are sexually assaulted but there is dearth of institutions and experts to deal with this gigantic problem,” said Dr Khalid Mufti, a noted psychiatrist and head of Peshawar-based organization Horizon, which is working for the habilitation of trauma-affected people since the last thirty years.
“There is a general tendency on the part of parents to hush up the matter while the affected children develop diseases that can retard their physical growth,” he said, adding that a lack of interest in education and the criminal tendencies are among the consequences.
“When the children show abnormal behaviour like a change in eating habits, secretiveness, social withdrawal or outburst of anger, it is time to consult a psychiatrist,” Dr Mufti said cautioning parents not to hand over their children to servants as the first step to their protection.
Dr Tariq, who specializes in designing curricula for children, said that parents, teachers and prayer leaders need to be trained to educate children as to how to make themselves safe from criminal assaults as well as to timely identify whether they have been wronged.
“Since there is a dearth of child specialists in the field of psychiatry as well as the right institutions to train such people, we need to enlarge the impact of available resources by training journalists, teachers, prayer-leaders and most importantly the parents to help affected children lead a normal life,” he added.
In recent years, 10% annual increase in child abuse cases has been recorded in Pakistan. According to a report by Sahil, an organization working for the protection of children, about 4000 children were criminally assaulted in 2016 while Parliament is sitting on Child Protection Bill since the last three years.
February 9 is celebrated as Child Protection Day worldwide to raise awareness about physical, emotional and educational needs of minors.