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Jamaica Gleaner

Hurting the cradle: women seducing boys

Jamaica Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica, by Avia Collinder, Sunday Gleaner Writer, March 4, 2007

Health professionals worry that the reported incidents of women raping young boys are few, the actual occurrence is believed to be higher and is causing long-term psychological damage to victims.

"In terms of the most current statistics on child abuse, this is not reflected as a large problem. But it is my sense that it is even more grossly under-reported and under-recognised than the typical child abuse scenario involving an older male perpetrator and younger female victim," says Dr. Judith Leiba, head of the Child Guidance Clinic at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston. "We have seen a few examples where the helper was involved, and in another situation, it was an older female cousin. Usually these boys were in the age group of five to eight years old," Dr. Leiba reports.

She suggests there is a "subterranean culture" of sexual practices that do not often present themselves to the public view and the raping of boys by women may be one of these. "Often, these incidents do not come to light until adulthood when one may be exploring a patient's sexual history and early sexual experiences," the psychologist warns.

A counsellor at a Corporate Area high school for boys has similar concerns. "I know it is an issue, especially among teenage boys," he tells The Sunday Gleaner. "Many will mask it because of fear of being stigmatised or labelled (for) not accepting such advances. But, really, it is an issue which needs to be addressed."

Family therapist Dr. Sidney McGill thinks the abuse is widespread: "I do not have research to back it, but in my experience, boys are often sexually molested ... usually by an older woman next door or by an older female cousin," he explains. "It seems to be common among young boys who are post or pre-pubertal - adolescent boys who are at this time trying to develop their identity. Instead of looking at it as violence, they see it as a feather in their cap," adds Dr. McGill.

Negative consequences

But he points to negative consequences which vary from victim to victim. "As with women who are sexually abused, the victim can become victimisers and as they get older, they yield a lot of coercive power over women (who they regard) as products of pleasure more than a person," states Dr. McGill. "Sex becomes a daily entree and a point of obsession."

Dr. Leiba also points to long- term effects on the sexually abused boys, who may become "unable to maintain long-term committed relations with women, which seems to be a common feature in the Jamaican relations.

She further explains: "The likely impact is quite similar to the effect of abuse on young females, for example the guilt, the shame; the growing sense of having participated in something wrong; the sense of betrayal of trust; the sense of violation of one's body. Some cases present with sexually inappropriate behaviour, sexually explicit language and sexually transmitted diseases."

The psychologist warns that the abused boy may become more aggressive or more withdrawn in his behaviour, or his performance at school may become impaired. "The young child may (even) start trying out the sexual behaviour on other children or adults," she stresses.

Female rape statistics:

Twenty per cent of substantiated cases of child sexual abuse in the United States between 1973-1987 were perpetrated by females.

Twenty-five per cent of sexual predators in Canada are female.

Source:  American Humane Association and the Canadian Children's Rights Council.

Parents can guard against the rape of boys by:

Continuing education of children, both male and female, starting from an early age - two to three years - about what is 'a good touch and a bad touch', that is, what is appropriate to be done to their bodies and what is not, and emphasising that no one, not even mommy, daddy or the trusted helper should do certain things to them.

Watching out for warning signs - sexually inappropriate behaviour or any marked change in behaviour or performance at school, a display of fear or unease regarding certain adults, physical signs of sexually transmitted diseases or sexual trauma, e.g. genital bleeding.

Maintaining close supervision of your children.

Maintaining a close relationship with your children so they will not be afraid to tell you what may seem to be very sensitive things.