Sexual harassment and assault

Majority of child sex abuse cases carried out by those under 18, Hong Kong organisation says

Concerns raised as 40 per cent of suspected abuse cases in private places happened in schools

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 8:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 8:01am

More than half of offenders in ­suspected child sex abuse cases handled by a non-government ­organisation in the past year were under 18 years of age, and some were younger than nine.

The End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, which identified 66 out of 231 reports received by its phone hotline from July last year to June this year as suspected child sexual abuse cases, called for better sex education at home and in schools to establish appropriate attitudes towards sex.

According to the foundation’s statistics, among the suspected child sexual abuse cases, 53 per cent of offenders were aged under 18, and 55 per cent of those were between seven and nine years old.

Some 54 per cent of victims were children aged four to nine.

A heated discussion on sexual abuse in Hong Kong was sparked recently after athlete Vera Lui Lai-yiu claimed she was sexually assaulted by her coach 10 years ago.

#MeToo and Vera Lui show why Hong Kong needs better sex education classes

Michelle Tam Chi-yun, the foundation’s executive director, said children might not clearly know what was appropriate behaviour even if they just intended to play with others.

“Children might not know their behaviour was offensive. They might not be aware they have crossed the line,” Tam said.

Among the 76 per cent of ­suspected abuse cases which ­involved physical contact, more than 60 per cent involved touching victims’ private parts.

Annie Ho Nim-chee, a clinical psychologist and board member of the foundation, voiced concern that 40 per cent of suspected cases that happened in private places were in schools.

The foundation said sex ­education could begin at kindergarten age. “For example, parents or domestic helpers could ­verbally teach young children to clean their private parts by themselves,” Tam said.

Meanwhile, a separate survey commissioned by the foundation revealed close to 70 per cent of 508 local parents interviewed hoped to gain access to any sexual conviction records of those hired to care for their children. The checks currently allow employers to see if job applicants had been involved in sexual offences.

The foundation said it hoped that apart from opening up records access to parents, such checks should be made compulsory and extended to staff who had already been employed.