In its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations calls for an end to all forms of violence against children by 2030, but some Nations, including Nigeria is still far from achieving this goal even now.

According to a first-of-its-kind research programme, "Out of the Shadows: Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation", researchers evaluated how countries were addressing child sexual abuse and exploitation. 

In the study published on January 15, Out of the Shadows showed that child sexual abuse and exploitation happen everywhere and are pressing concerns for both wealthy and developing countries alike.

Developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with support from the World Childhood Foundation and Oak Foundation and with additional support from the Carlson Family Foundation, the Out of the Shadows Index and report revealed how 40 countries at the national level were confronting child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The study looked at the Environment, Legal Framework, Government Commitment and Capacity, Engagement: Industry, Civil Society and Media to produce its data that showed that Nigeria was at the 33rd position out of the 40 countries.

"The UK, Sweden and Canada hold the top three positions in the index.

"UK government policy to protect children is particularly well developed, and the country has a high level of engagement from industry, civil society and the media. Sweden’s overall environment for children and its legal framework are especially strong, as are Canada’s," the study revelled.   

child sexual abuse report out of the shadows

There has been increase in Child sexual abuse in Nigeria, and the focus has remained on the girl-child, but the report says boys are often overlooked. 

This was highlighted in a book, 'How To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse', by a survivor who is helping parents address the issue, Mr Eky Nwokoro

"Boys are overlooked. Just over half (21) of the 40 countries do not have legal protections for boys within their child rape laws, while only 18 countries collect prevalence data about sexual abuse of boys.  

"Combating child sexual abuse and exploitation is becoming a greater priority on the global stage and in many individual countries, and research shows that progress is possible even when resources are limited.

"Sexual violence against children takes place mostly in the shadows, but is a universal threat— no boy or girl is immune.

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"Yet this especially pernicious form of abuse is rarely discussed, even though its emotional and health consequences linger, and the socioeconomic impacts can be devastating," the study report read.

It further highlighted the need for parents to also monitor what their children are exposed to as regards means of communication. 

"The risks to children have been greatly increased by improved communications connectivity and mobility, which make it easier for offenders to find and lure children online."

One area that the study also showed improvement was in enactment of laws. 

"Country action has been most pronounced on legal frameworks that protect children.

"International coalitions can be a path to better legislation, and countries that have strong legal structures  also have good fundamentals, including designated national plans, policies and institutions to address sexual violence against children," the study added.

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