Tag Archives: Child sexual abuse

Dealing with Sexual Assault

We perceive India as a safe, tradition bound country that honours women and loves children. Yet, our cities are becoming famous, even internationally, for molestation and rape. The number of cases reported has increased 700 per cent since Independence. And this is probably only the tip of the iceberg.CLICK & SEE

Shame, family pressures, social stigma, economic vulnerability and lack of knowledge of legal procedures coerce a victim into silence. To make things worse, the victim is often regarded by our inadequately educated, underpaid and insensitive police personnel as the one at “fault”.

Rape is traditionally considered a crime against women. But times are changing. Horror stories abound about homosexual sexual predators targeting, kidnapping and victimising young boys. The victims range from six-month-olds to 80-year-olds. The perpetuators of rape, however, are almost always male.

Around 80 per cent of the crime is committed by someone known to the victim. Often, the abuser is a member of the victim’s family or belongs to his or her circle of acquaintances. In such cases, the crime is perpetuated in a known place, in either of their homes or that of a friend, relative or neighbour.

Today, children of both sexes are in danger, in exclusive neighbourhoods as well as the slums. Their lack of knowledge, inexperience and trusting nature make them ideal victims. Many of these attacks are not random but well planned by a predator known to the victim.

Police complaints are often followed by unwelcome media publicity. There are no “special victim units” in the police force yet, that may be trained to handle such cases with discretion and empathy. The guidelines provided deal mostly with the rape of women. The concept of male or child rape is new and the level of expertise in dealing with this is low.

Despite this, if a parent or the victim wishes to prosecute the assailant, a physical medical examination, documentation of the evidence and registration of an FIR (First Information Report) must be done.

Even otherwise, a thorough medical examination must be undertaken as soon as possible to treat and record lacerations and injuries, both external and internal.

The greatest fear about sexual assault is that of acquiring STDs. The number infected varies between 5 and 10 per cent. Infection depends upon several factors, such as the type of sexual contact, number of assailants, and whether or not they had an STD at the time of the assault.

The risk of contracting STDs can be reduced by taking medication as a preventive measure. Immediate and effective treatment options are available for some STDs such as hepatitis B, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, chlamydia and trichomonas vaginalis.

The regimen recommended is a single injection of ceftriaxone, plus an oral dose of azithromycin, plus either secnidazole, tinidazole or metronidazole. Herpes can be tackled with a five or seven-day course of acyclovir.

The risk of acquiring HIV infection is less than 1 per cent. However, it is important for medico-legal reasons to document the HIV status immediately. The test should be repeated after six months and then a year. A 28-day regimen of zidovudine and lamivudine provides post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and should be started as soon as possible, preferably within 72 hours.

Injuries and lacerations require a single booster dose of tetanus toxoid. Hepatitis B can be sexually transmitted. Most children today have received three doses of the vaccine as part of their immunisation schedule and are thus protected against the infection. In that case, only a booster dose needs to be given. If the victim has not been immunised in childhood, immunoglobulin needs to be given. In addition, three doses of the vaccine must be given — immediately after the incident, after a month and after six months.

Prophylactic treatment against syphilis is not advised. Instead, a blood test can be done after three months to ascertain if infection has occurred.

Counselling, psychiatric evaluation and support are necessary for the victim as well as his or her family to overcome the trauma.

To protect children —

• Make them learn addresses and phone numbers by heart

• Teach them certain body parts are not to be touched

• Discourage them from talking to strangers

• Do not send them anywhere alone, especially after dark

• Escort them to and from school bus stops

• Encourage physical fitness and teach them martial arts

• Teach them to trust their survival instincts and, if needed, run in the opposite direction as fast as they can, shouting all the way.

For adults, the best bet is —

*To have peepholes in the front door

*Avoid dark and deserted areas

*Be physically fit and able to run fast.

Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Indoor Plants Cut Formaldehyde

Indoor plants can reduce formaldehyde levels in the air, according to a new study.

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The sources of the toxic gas formaldehyde are building materials including carpeting, curtains, plywood, and adhesives.

As it is emitted, it deteriorates the air quality, which can lead to ‘multiple chemical sensitivity‘ and ‘sick building syndrome‘, medical conditions with symptoms such as allergies, asthma, and headaches.

The prevalence of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) is greater in new construction.

In the study, lead author Kwang Jin Kim of Korea‘s National Horticultural Research Institute compared the absorption rate of two types of houseplants, Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) and Fatsia japonica, an evergreen shrub.

During the study, equal amounts of formaldehyde were pumped into containers holding each type of plant in three configurations: whole, roots-only with the leafy portion cut off, and aerial-only, with the below-ground portion sealed off, leaving the stem and leaves exposed.

The results showed the combined total of aerial-only and roots-only portions was similar to the amount removed by whole plants. Complete plants removed approximately 80 percent of the formaldehyde within 4 hours.

Control chambers pumped with the same amount of formaldehyde, but not containing any plant parts, decreased by 7.3 percent during the day and 6.9 percent overnight within 5 hours. As the length of exposure increased, the amount of absorption decreased, which appeared to be due to the reduced concentration of the gas.

Aerial parts of reduced more formaldehyde during the day than at night. This suggests the role played by stomata, tiny slits on the surface of the leaves that are only open during the day.

The portion of formaldehyde that was reduced during the night was most likely absorbed through a thin film on the plant’s surface known as the cuticle. Root zones of ficus removed similar amounts between night and day. However, japonica root zones removed more formaldehyde at night.

Researchers consider micro-organisms living among the soil and root system to be a major contributor to the reduction. Japonica was planted in larger pots than the ficus, which may account for the lower night reduction rate of the latter.

Sources: The Times Of India

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In The Throes Of Despair

A combination of nature and nurture leads to post-traumatic stress disorder, say scientist .Both genetic and environmental factors affect people’s risk of developing post-traumatic stress, says new research that illustrates how nature and nurture combine to shape health and behaviour.

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A particular genetic variant makes people much more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after harrowing experiences, but only if they have also had an abusive childhood, US scientists have discovered. The findings add to a growing consensus that the debate about whether mental health, personality and behaviour are driven by nature or nurture is founded on a misconception. They indicate strongly that genes and the environment are not mutually exclusive forces, but rather work together to influence human development.

PTSD is a serious anxiety disorder that develops among people who experience unpleasant events, such as war, murders, terrorist attacks or natural disasters. It leads to nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, mood swings and depression, and can severely impair the ability to live a normal life.

Not everybody who experiences severe trauma develops PTSD, and the risk is known to be influenced by genetics. Studies of twins who served in Vietnam showed that identical pairs, who share all their genes, are more likely both to suffer than are fraternal sets.

Genes, however, do not explain all the variability in people’s risk, and the precise genes and environmental factors that are involved have remained obscure.

A study led by Kerry Ressler, of Emory University in Atlanta, examined the effects of a gene called FKBP5, which is involved in the way the body responds to stress. The DNA code of this gene varies at four points, which allowed the scientists to investigate whether any particular genetic profiles would either raise the risk of PTSD or protect against it.

As PTSD develops only when people have lived through traumatic events, Dr Ressler studied a group of 900 adults who lived in deprived urban communities and were likely to have had violent experiences of the sort that can provoke the disorder.

The participants were also asked to complete a questionnaire that recorded whether they had suffered physical or sexual abuse at a young age. When variations in the FKBP5 gene were examined on their own, the researchers found no effect on PTSD risk. A history of child abuse also made no difference in isolation.

When the two factors were considered together, however, they were found to interact to raise or reduce risk. People with certain variants of FKBP5 were much more likely to develop PTSD after trauma if they had also been abused as children.

“These results are early and will need to be replicated, but they support the hypothesis that combinations of genes and environmental factors affect the risk for stress-related disorders like PTSD,” Dr Ressler said.

“Understanding how gene-environment interactions affect mental health can help us to understand the neuro- biology of these illnesses.”

The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, follow other studies that have shown how genetic variants interact with environmental factors to affect behaviour or mental health.

A team led by Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt, of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, has found that a variant of a gene called MAOA predisposes to antisocial behaviour when accompanied by child abuse. Dr Caspi said: “It is part of an emerging body of research that documents not so much that genes cause disease, but rather that genetic differences shape how people respond differently to the same events.”

Sources:THE TIMES, LONDON