Sibling Sexual Abuse an Epidemic

Jason (not his real name) was seven years old when he saw his first pornographic picture. While watching a YouTube video on his mom’s computer, he noticed an explicit advertisement.

What’s this?

Click.

Instantly, he was pulled into the world of hardcore pornography.

It was an accidental exposure. Jason never intended to start watching porn. But he couldn’t stop. And he kept secretly finding more to look at.

Unfortunately, his habit went undiscovered for two more years until he was nine. This is when Jason started “acting out” scenes from pornographic videos while “playing” with his younger siblings. He was doing what normal kids do: imitating behavior. Jason’s siblings followed his lead.

Eventually, his parents caught several of their young kids doing inappropriate things with each other. When the two-year old started exhibiting sexual behavior, his parents needed an answer. But they were not prepared for what came next: Jason confessed to molesting his younger siblings.

Sibling sexual abuse not rare

According to Tamara Hill, Licensed Child & Adolescent Therapist, situations like this are not as rare as people think. Sibling sexual abuse, although not often discussed, has become widespread and hits every type of family. As a specialist who works with kids who have experienced trauma, Hill has worked with “multiple incidents of children offending their siblings.”

From the outside, “Jason’s family looks like a regular middle class family,” Hill said. “Jason has active and caring parents. All the kids play sports and get good grades.” Jason had never been abused. Yet he has turned into a sexual perpetrator.

Many people think that only sexual abuse could condition a child for sexually deviant behavior. Not true. Exposure to pornography can also lead a child to act out sexually, including with other children.

Related: The Secret Life of a Young Girl Abused by Pornography

Hill told me that this boy was considered “so ill” he had to be sent to residential treatment. When I asked her what she meant by “ill,” she told be that children like Jason have learned to see sexual behavior between kids as normal. Hill explained that it typically takes a year or two of round-the-clock treatment for a child like Jason to learn and internalize that sexual touch is not appropriate for young kids.

Residential treatment centers are designed to give their young patients individual, family, and group therapy. When patients are not in therapy, they are continually monitored as they socialize with other patients. Cameras and staff are everywhere. Only 24/7 surveillance keeps these kids from offending with each other.

Residential treatment info

Is it easy for a child to be admitted to residential treatment? It depends on where you live. Hill explains:

Some kids are on a waiting list because there just aren’t enough beds in certain facilities. The waiting list can be as long as between 3-12 months. Most facilities are 24 beds; some are more or less.

Admission to a residential treatment facility depends on the severity of the problem, the duration and intensity of the problem, the family’s income and assets, the distance of the facility to the family’s home, treatment history, and  a recommendation from a mental health professional, primarily a doctor. Each state is different but in [some places] a child or adolescent cannot be admitted to a residential treatment facility without a doctor’s recommendation.

In addition to being an emotional burden on families, having a child admitted to residential treatment can be a financial burden as well. Hill’s experience is that residential treatment facilities are not typically covered by private insurance and require medical assistance, which is considered secondary insurance. Most families can apply for medical assistance if their child is in need of services but many families won’t qualify if their income is above a set limit.

How can parents cope?

It’s clear this is a nightmare for any parent to deal with! When I asked Hill how Jason’s parents and others like them can get through such a challenge, she recommended this strategy:

  • Accept the situation as real. This is a hard first step for many.
  • Participate in support groups and therapy.
  • Find tools that help you monitor your kids. [We recommend our affiliate Covenant Eyes. When you sign up through our link, you are also supporting Protect Young Minds. Hill recommends teensafe as a helpful tool for parents.]

Pornography shatters families

What a tragedy–how my heart aches for Jason and his family!

This young boy has been torn from his home because pornography has so severely disrupted his normal development that his siblings are no longer safe around him.

Related: Why Even Good Kids Get Pulled Into Porn

Pornography’s abusive impact on one child can quickly victimize many.

Child-on-child sexual abuse is happening in homes, in neighborhoods and also on school grounds and buses. Pornography exposure combined with child-on-child abuse can rapidly harm an entire community.

A growing epidemic

Paula Hall, therapist and expert in pornography addiction, revealed this truth during an eye-opening TEDx talk: “When you combine easy access [to pornography] with no education of risks then you are paving the way for an epidemic.”

We have a growing epidemic and we need to sound the warning!  We need to help children understand that images CAN hurt them. Children that learn to look away from pornographic images are not only protecting their mental health, they are potentially protecting other kids as well.

What can parents do to protect their kids?

We know your time is precious. That’s why we’ve done the research for you! We’ve compiled expert advice in one convenient place: Our FREE Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents.

Learn the Basics

  • Find out why good kids get pulled into porn.
  • See what pediatricians are saying about the impacts of pornography.
  • Discover why pornography exposure is being called a public health crisis.

Prepare Yourself

  • Plan a good time to talk about internet safety.
  • Learn why you should be the first one to warn your child about pornography.
  • Find out 5 ways to get more comfortable speaking about pornography with your kids.

Teach Your Kids

  • Define the word pornography.
  • Keep  your kids safe from sexual abuse (which is highly correlated with porn use) by teaching them correct names for body parts.
  • Teach kids the power of their thinking brain.

You have the power to prepare your kids to reject pornography! Click on the image below to get your free Quickstart Guide today!

Let’s work together to help parents warn their kids early about the dangers of pornography.

Share this post with people in your community and spread the word that we can no longer stay silent. Every child deserves the tools to build a porn-free life!

Claudine Gallacher
Claudine Gallacher, MA, is the Social Media Guru at Protect Young Minds and was the writing coach for Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. Claudine is enthusiastic about teaching parents how to empower kids with the skills they need to reject pornography. To reach parents, she writes, researches, edits, speaks, and markets. Claudine is married and has three great kids who support her work. Contact Claudine on Twitter @ProtectYM or email claudine@protectyoungminds.org.
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