Session 3.3: Supporting your child in cases of OCSE

Topic Progress:

According to data on disclosure collected by APLE, parents and peer members of children are usually the first people children will disclose abuse to. Stay attentive to your child’s needs and changes in behavior, and be reassuring if they come to you for help by saying that they did the right thing.  

A child who has been victimized will likely already feel feelings of shame, fear and low self-esteem following their abuse, and the first thing they need in order to recover and regain their confidence is to understand that they have done nothing wrong, realize that the situation is not hopeless and that they are not alone. 

Remember that it is the manipulation of the offender that led to the abuse, and thus focusing on what the child has done will only wrongfully increase feelings of self-blame. Unsupportive approaches of handling cases of abuse can worsen children’s feelings and prevent them from speaking up.   

Many families who have a child who has been victim to sexual abuse and exploitation feel ashamed and often do not want to expose the abuse in fear of stigmatization from society. However, it is important to remember that the child has done nothing wrong and that feelings of shame should be only on the offender’s actions and not on what happened to the child. 

Keeping quiet about abuse can add more emotional distress on the child which will increase their difficulties. Encouraging them to speak about their abuse despite the fear they may have, can help lessen the negative impact and allow them to receive help. 

If you suspect your child is being sexually exploited online, it is important you talk with your child and see whether they need help. If they disclose abuse:  

  • You should listen attentively without judgment and take what is said seriously.  
  • Do not interrupt the child or ask leading questions. Your role is not to investigate the child or to verify the details of the case. 
  • Assure the child that speaking about it and coming to you was the right thing to do.  
  • Assure them that they have done nothing wrong.  
  • Show empathy and support.  
  • Explain to the child that you might need to pass the information, but it will be only to those who need to know and whose job it is to protect children.  
  • Provide the child with information on how they can get further support from professionals and aid them in reporting the abuse. 

How to report 

If you are aware of any case of OCSE or a child discloses to you, you can file an online report of the case on APLE’s internet hotline Reports are anonymous and stay confidential. Once APLE receives a report, an analyst assesses its legality, and then notifies law enforcement and/or internet service providers to help take the illegal material off of the web.  

You can also report through APLE’s 24/7 hotline – 092 311 511 

Why should you report? 

  • Reporting increases the possibility of removing the abusive content from the web and helps stop the abuse. 
  • It can aid in victim identification and enable the child to receive support and assistance.  
  • It improves chances of finding the child sex offender and helps bring the offender to justice. 
  • The more people report, the less offenders will act in fear of being caught. 
  • Normalizing reporting can provide victims with the confidence of disclosing abuse when it occurs, knowing they will receive help 
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