NGO tackles problem that often remains hidden After her son refused to attend school, scared out of his wits after being forced to perform oral sex on older boys almost every day in a school toilet, his mother called the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation's 'Hugline' and sought help. Child sexual abuse is so horrendous that most cases are hidden, the victims wracked by guilt and the predator escaping and repeating the offence until they are caught. The foundation's executive director, Katy Lo Man Shek-kay, said she believed the number of cases of child sexual abuse was under-reported. The only non-governmental organisation which deals specifically with child sexual abuse, the foundation handled 104 cases in 2006-07 and 107 cases in 2005-06. Fifty-one per cent of cases took place in the victim's homes or schools. As two working parents is now often the norm and family life is becoming more complicated, the number of cases could rise, Ms Lo said. 'The peer sexual abuse is more serious in secondary schools than in primary schools,' she said, citing the results of research commissioned in 2004. 'As the children got older they reported sexual abuse such as oral sex. We are not too shocked as it is a finding that reinforces what we expected.' Usually the abuse starts out as 'a sex game'. 'They cannot differentiate between it and sex abuse,' she said. She blamed the situation on easy accessibility to pornography for teenagers, through the internet and comic books. 'Children are very curious and have all this information; they want to try it.' Another reason for peer sexual abuse was bullying - more boys said they had been sexually abused than girls. 'Boys want to show they are more powerful than you and they pick on the small ones,' she said. Ms Lo said to reduce the risk of sexual abuse, schools should ask staff to check high-risk places such as toilets, staircases and quiet corners. The foundation's 'Hugline' is only for Chinese and English speakers. Members of the ethnic minorities who speak neither are not served, she added. The foundation was launched in November 1998 by actress Josephine Siao Fong-Fong. She said the experiences of her best friend had driven her to study for a master's degree in child psychology and start the foundation. Angel Chong On-ki, a teacher at a Tuen Mun school, said the foundation's harm-reduction training sessions were interesting. 'It is very good for them to know the bad consequences of a bad relationship,' she said. The End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation is one of 13 charities that will benefit from the Operation Santa Claus charity drive co-organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK Radio 3. Part of the funds raised by Operation Santa Claus, which is in its 21st year, will go to the SCMP Homes for Hope project to help victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Wish list Aim The End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation wants to establish preventive programmes for students in Forms One to Three. Multimedia tools such as computer games and animated films will be used to boost learning interest. About 10,000 students ages 12 to 15 will benefit from the programme in the next school year. Funding HK$512,200 in cash or in kind.