200 allegations revealed
In a sudden moment of clarity, Gilhooly decided he wanted to live, to start afresh after completely losing track of who he was.
The stark recollection in “I Am Nobody,” Gilhooly’s newly published memoir, is the latest step in a gradual process of telling his harrowing — but ultimately hopeful — story of being molested as a young hockey player by notorious former coach Graham James, and what came after.
“I think if there’s one thing that comes out of my story, it’s that sexual abuse is about way more than the sexual abuse — it’s about what a victim does to him or herself in the aftermath,” Gilhooly said in an interview. “And that can often be worse than the crimes themselves.”
Growing up in 1970s Winnipeg, Gilhooly was a promising young goalie and an exceptionally bright student. But his family life was strained.
Along came James, the confident, smooth-talking coach who had made a name for himself in junior hockey circles. He became a mentor to Gilhooly, winning his confidence and filling an emotional void in his life. Foot massages after training workouts escalated into flagrant assaults.
It left Gilhooly horribly confused, but unable to walk away from someone who had become an important figure in his world. “Me? Who was I? I had no idea,” he writes. “I thought I did, but not anymore. I was now nobody at all.”
He went on to earn degrees at ivy league Princeton and the University of Toronto, even playing goal for the venerable Varsity Blues.
An impressive career in corporate law followed school, yet Gilhooly’s life spiralled into substance abuse and depression. After that night on the bridge, he found the nerve to confide in a doctor, then his mother and siblings, who showed love and support. Therapy has helped Gilhooly regain his footing.
He tells of his distress upon hearing through the grapevine that James had received a criminal pardon, and anonymously tipping The Canadian Press in 2010 to the news. The resulting story sparked public outrage; the Conservative government of the day seized upon the issue to make it harder and more expensive to obtain a pardon.
Gilhooly took another difficult step, going to the Winnipeg police.
Though Gilhooly is pleased the government toughened the pardon system, he is not happy that some of the changes adversely affected those convicted of lesser crimes, where he says the focus should be on more rehabilitation, not less.
Most paedophiles cannot be rehabilitated!
But he sees major failings in the legal system — he refuses to call it a justice system — that have let people off lightly for child sexual assault, a crime he considers “nothing short of the murder of a child’s soul.”
Police have charged former youth football coach and scout 'Kit' Carson with the sexual abuse of 11 boys under the age of 16 between 1978 and 2009.
Cambridgeshire Police said Carson has been charged with 11 counts of indecent assault and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The alleged offences involve 11 victims, all boys who were under the age of 16.
According to his football consultancy's website, which has now been taken down, Carson has coached a host of leading players.
He worked at Norwich as a youth coach between 1983 and 1993, before moving to Peterborough to run their youth academy until 2001. He then spent five years at Cambridge as their head of talent development.
More recently, Carson has worked at non-league Histon in Cambridgeshire and been a football scout in Finland. According to his LinkedIn page, he has also written two coaching manuals.
child sexual abuse
Victims of football coach left ‘bitterly disappointed’ after club says it will not hold investigation
Josh Halliday North of England correspondent
Victims of Barry Bennell have said they are “bitterly disappointed” after Crewe Alexandra rejected calls for an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse by its former youth football coach.
The club said the police had found no evidence that anyone at Crewe knew about Bennell’s offending and it saw no need to “duplicate the thorough inquiries” by launching another investigation.
The statement, which followed weeks of questions for the club after Bennell’s conviction, was immediately criticised as “deeply disappointing” by the former players he abused.
The former Crewe and Manchester City coach was jailed for 30 years last month after being found guilty of 43 charges of child sexual abuse throughout the 1980s. Another 86 former players have come forward to make abuse complaints against him.
In its statement, Crewe again insisted that Bennell, 64, was sacked in 1992 as its youth coach for “footballing reasons”.
It has been reported that Bennell was fired days after parents confronted him about his behaviour, and that rumours about the coach were widespread at the time.
But the club said on Friday that police “found no evidence that Mr Bennell was dismissed because of any complaints for sexual assault being made against him at that time”.
After the “extremely thorough” Cheshire police investigation, Crewe said it would no longer be launching an independent review, despite promising one in November 2016 when the allegations were first exposed by the Guardian.
Andy Woodward, whose interview in the Guardian emboldened other players to come forward, said: “This statement speaks for itself. Once again the victims come last, after the reputation of the club.
“What has happened has ruined mine, my family and many, many others that played for the club as vulnerable children. I’m bitterly disappointed with their response, but I’d rather focus my energy on driving change, so no club can let this happen again, than dwell on the past.
“Crewe had a moral responsibility to investigate their own failings. Instead they seem to want to bury their heads in the sand and, if nothing else, at least people can now see the way the club operate.
“As far as I know, they have not asked to speak to any of the former players from this harrowing court case to learn about how this scandal happened and what could have been done to prevent it.
“A police investigation, looking for possible crimes, is entirely different to an independent inquiry being set up to investigate what went wrong and make sure it never happens again. For the many victims, this is just another kick in the teeth but, as shocking as it is, nothing should really surprise us about Crewe any more.”
The Offside Trust, a charity supporting survivors of child sexual abuse in sport, repeated its call for Crewe to agree to independent scrutiny and said the people who were abused “can only move forward if all the facts are known”.
“For lessons to be learned, there needs to be full transparency from all clubs where abuse took place. As an organisation created by survivors, for survivors, we believe that these clubs have a moral responsibility to open their doors to a truly independent investigation. If clubs have nothing to hide, they should not shirk from this duty.”
The charity said the healing process was made more difficult when clubs and individuals “refuse to properly address the past and fail to demonstrate any empathy and remorse. We sincerely hope that clubs will acknowledge this and agree to appropriate independent scrutiny.”
Crewe’s 925-word statement made no reference to the allegation that it continued to employ Bennell for a number of years, despite the club’s chairman at the time being told by police to “move him on” in the late 1980s, following a specific complaint.
Nor did the statement comment on allegations, reported by the BBC, that a former Crewe employee said he was asked to help delete pornography from the home computer of the then manager Dario Gradi.
The allegation was made in a statement to the NSPCC in 2011. Gradi, whose association with Crewe goes back to 1983 and includes more than 1,200 games as manager, has denied any wrongdoing.
The club said: “Finally, and above all else, the club wishes to make it absolutely clear that it sincerely regrets the terrible crimes committed by Mr Bennell upon young footballers over a significant number of years. The club also wishes to reiterate its deepest sympathies to the victims and survivors of Barry Bennell.”
Six people have been arrested in connection with child sex abuse in Rotherham.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said five men from Rotherham and Sheffield were arrested on suspicion of raping and indecently assaulting two girls under the age of 16.
A 53-year-old woman from Rotherham was also arrested on suspicion of allowing her premises to be used for sex with underage girls.
The charges date back to 2002 and 2003.
Two other people - a 39-year-old woman from Rotherham and a 34-year-old man from Sheffield - "were voluntarily interviewed under caution", the agency said.
All have been bailed for three weeks as inquiries continue.
Last month, the NCA said its Operation Stovewood inquiry had identified more than 1,500 potential victims of child sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town.
The investigation is being conducted at the request of South Yorkshire Police. It has an annual budget of £6.9m and is 85% funded by the Home Office with the rest paid by South Yorkshire Police.
To date, four people have been convicted in relation to Operation Stovewood.
Additional victims have been identified by police investigating a married couple already facing a catalogue of sex offence charges, a court has heard.
A prosecution lawyer said that while more victims have been identified, "they have yet to be located. The police investigation is very much still in its infancy," said the lawyer.
District judge Amanda Brady remanded the couple back into custody to appear again next Thursday, March 8, via video link. A defence solicitor had been unable to attend due to the snowy conditions. The Beast from the East!
Gary Talbot (58) and his 57-year-wife Heather, from Kinghill Avenue in Newcastle, Co Down, are jointly charged with gross indecency with a child, inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency, indecent assault, and three counts alleging they possessed, made and distributed indecent images of a child.
In addition, Gary Talbot faces two counts of rape and his wife a count of aiding and abetting rape on dates unknown between 2001 and 2003 when the alleged victim was aged between approximately 18 months and five years. When the couple were initially charged four weeks ago, the court heard claims that Heather Talbot allegedly bought stockings and underwear for the infant female before her husband raped her.
A detective claimed the police had uncovered photographic evidence that showed Gary Talbot engaging in sexual acts, including rape, with the little girl. Giving evidence to the court, the detective constable said the couple's home was initially searched last October when a number of devices, computers and a laptop were seized, adding that Gary Talbot is being investigated over indecent images of children in a separate investigation.
The officer revealed that when the devices were examined, "a number of digital images were found which clearly show Gary and Heather Talbot engaging in sexual activity with a child of two to four years at their home."
The court had heard that during police interviews Gary Talbot identified the child to officers, but police had been unable to get in touch with her family.
In his interviews, Gary Talbot admitted "making a collection of sexy videos... admitted rape, sexually assaulting and gross indecency with the child", the court heard.
Heather Talbot had admitted to "dressing the victim for her husband" but claimed she left the room so "did not know what happened after that between her husband and the victim", the court heard. She further claimed many of the images were "innocent" with some taken when the girl was "just out of the bath".
Bishop John McAreavy said he was resigning with a “heavy heart” over the controversy surrounding his officiation at the funeral, in 2002, of Fr Malachy Finnegan, a known child abuser.
“I would ask you first and foremost to continue to hold in your prayers those who have been abused and all who are suffering at this time."
“Until new arrangements for the leadership of the Diocese are in place, Canon Liam Stevenson, the Vicar General, will take responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the Diocese. As regards the celebration of Confirmation, the priests of each parish have been delegated to minister this Sacrament.
“To serve as Bishop of Dromore, my home Diocese, has been the greatest privilege of my life, though not without its challenges. Finally, I want to say thank you for your kindness and co-operation over my time as Bishop. Please keep me in your prayers, as I will keep you in mine.”
Amnesty International has called for a public inquiry into clerical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland after the revelations of abuse by Fr Finnegan.
Fr Finnegan has been accused of sex abuse by 12 people to date, with more victims coming forward since BBC Northern Ireland broadcast a Spotlight programme about him last month.
The priest served at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1971 and was a teacher there from 1973 to 1976. He was president of the college from 1976 to 1987. The diocese of Dromore made a settlement with one of his victims last October. Bishop McAreavey resigned on Thursday, following criticism of his handling of the case.
The Spotlight reporter Mandy McAuley revealed that in 1994 the bishop of Dromore at the time, Francis Brooks, asked Fr McAreavey to look into an allegation of abuse involving Fr Finnegan. The allegation was not reported to police until 2006. Dr McAreavey, who became bishop of Dromore in 1999, said he understood Bishop Brooks had reported the allegation to public authorities.
It was disclosed also that in 2000 Fr Finnegan appeared alongside Bishop McAreavey at a Mass in Hilltown parish, in Co Down, to mark the church’s 150th anniversary. Fr Finnegan is alleged to have seriously abused one boy over many years while he served in the parish. Bishop McAreavey has expressed regret for saying Fr Finnegan’s funeral Mass.
Last week it emerged that Hilltown parents and some from other schools in the area had said they did not want Dr McAreavey to take part in Confirmation ceremonies involving their children this year. They met the bishop to discuss this and he said he would obstruct their wishes.
Some of Fr Finnegan’s victims have further claimed that police in Newry were alerted to allegations about him in 1996 but failed to interview the priest. The police say that a formal complaint was never made but that they did receive a report of historical abuse.
Amnesty International said the Fr Finnegan case had prompted it to repeat the call for a full public inquiry into clerical child abuse in Northern Ireland that it had first made in November 2012.
It pointed out that reviews by the Catholic Church’s own safeguarding body, its National Board for Safeguarding Children, had revealed that more than 100 priests in Northern Ireland were alleged to have been responsible for child abuse since the mid-1970s.
Amnesty’s Northern Ireland programme director, Patrick Corrigan, said the Fr Finnegan case was “yet another example of how paedophile priests appear to have been facilitated by the church authorities in continuing their vile abuse.”
He said that “the police and state authorities also have serious questions to answer, in this and in other cases, with regards to their apparent failure to adequately investigate very serious allegations.
“That is why Amnesty now calls for the Secretary of State to establish a public inquiry into the scale and circumstances of clerical child abuse in Northern Ireland.”
His call was backed up by Claire McKeegan, a solicitor who represents a number of Fr Finnegan’s victims. She said: “We have received calls from numerous further victims and witnesses of Malachy Finnegan’s vile abuses since the significant settlement by our client known as Patrick was made public recently. The message is clear: victims demand a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland without any further delay.”
The Diocese of Down and Connor has named a priest it reported to police in 2011 following an allegation of child sex abuse.
Fr Kevin O'Leary, who was accused of assaulting a child in the 1990s, was dead by the time the diocese received the complaint, a spokesman said.
The PSNI confirmed a report of sexual abuse was passed to it by the diocese in September 2011, but said an investigation could not be pursued because the accused was deceased.
The diocese also confirmed it had reached settlements on compensation with four victims of former priest Danny Curran, who has been convicted of a number of sexual assaults against children.
One claim is still pending, a spokesman said. Fr O'Leary died in April 2010 aged 85. Before that he had spent 25 years with the Rosminian Order after his 1949 ordination.
The diocese said: "In 1974, after several years work with the Rosminian Order, Fr O'Leary requested a pastoral placement in the Diocese of Down and Connor, preferring to engage in pastoral work after several years of teaching in Rosminian schools and colleges.
"At Fr O'Leary's request, and with the agreement of his order and the then bishop after a probationary period, he was incardinated as a diocesan priest of the Diocese of Down and Connor in April 1978."
During his time in the diocese, Fr O'Leary was placed first as 'assistant' in Ballymena from August to October 1974. He then moved to St Mary's on the Hill, Glengormley, from October 1974 to September 1983 as curate. In October 1983 he moved to Newcastle, again as curate, where he stayed until September 1989.
Finally, Fr O'Leary moved to St Anthony's in Belfast in October 1989 where he was parish priest until his retirement in August 1996. Following his retirement, Fr O'Leary lived in Castlewellan, Co Down.
The diocese added: "The diocese was made aware in September 2011, through a third party, of a complaint against Fr O'Leary."
The complaint was promptly reported by the diocese to the police and the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, and support and assistance offered to the complainant and the complainant's family.
"The safeguarding matter was reported on September 19, 2011 by the Down and Connor Safeguarding Office to the PSNI Central Referral Unit (Child Abuse Investigation Unit)." It added that the diocese was not aware of any other complaint against Fr O'Leary, adding that no claim for compensation had been made in relation to the priest.
In a statement, the Rosminian Order said: "We are aware of the statement of Diocese of Down and Connor in relation to Fr O'Leary and have nothing to add, save to confirm that we are not aware of any complaints against Fr O'Leary, other than one notified in September 2011."
A number of independent safeguarding audits have taken place within the Diocese of Down and Connor since 2011, including an independent review of all cases of alleged clerical abuse in Down and Connor, living and deceased from 1961-2011, as well as two reviews in 2013 of child safeguarding structures and procedures in the diocese.
The Diocese of Down and Connor has implemented the various recommendations outlined within these reviews.
Megan Palin@megan_palin news.com.au
WHEN Russell Clark shoved a needle in his arm and injected heroin into his veins it worked “like medicine”.
“It hurt a lot, I bled,” he said of the attacks through tears. “I was treated like an animal and discarded like a piece of shit.”
He’s been clean since the mid-1980s. But his troubles are far from over. Mr Clark is ineligible for the government’s planned $3.8 billion national redress scheme to compensate institutional child sex abuse victims because he is a convicted criminal.
The father of four, who lives with his partner Sandra in Loxton, South Australia, spent the earlier part of his adult life in and out of jail for nonviolent, drug-related crimes. But Mr Clark said that shouldn’t make him unworthy of compensation as “eligible survivors” are paid up to $150,000 and provided access to counselling and psychological services as part of the scheme.
The Commonwealth consulted with the states and decided to exclude sex offenders and anyone jailed for five years or more for crimes including murder or serious drug and fraud offences. Survivors convicted of lesser crimes would also be blocked “in exceptional cases”. Under the plan, Scheme operators would be given authority to determine whether survivors who had served time in jail were still eligible for redress, on a case-by-case basis.
“To exclude myself and others from redress because I took drugs and committed crimes to support a habit is just stupid,” Mr Clark told news.com.au. “I hurt myself, self destruct mode is what usually happens when a child is raped and tortured. Those a**ewipes who abused me got away with it and they were protected for crimes against humanity.”
Knowmore legal service executive officer Warren Strange said the discretion was very broad and described it as “exercisable really on grounds of ... some survivors (being) worthy of redress and others are not”.
Mr Clark agreed with the sentiment: “What makes us worth less? How can a life be repaired? My life is coming to an end (but) what about those left behind who have to keep suffering?” he said. They were questions he also put in his submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Mr Clark suffers from end stage liver disease, endured multiple transplant, and one doctor recently advised he had less than a year to live, according to him. But he wants to ensure his loved ones left behind don’t “lose everything when (he) goes”.
Mr Clark has started a change.org petition to rally the government to drop the exclusion that makes child sex abuse survivors who later become convicted criminals ineligible for compensation. More than 24,000 supporters have signed it.
Australia’s major churches joined victims’ supporters in demanding the federal government drop the exclusion. No other government scheme blocks survivors based on their criminal history, an international expert on institutional child abuse redress said.
“This exclusion has not been part of any government redress scheme or any redress scheme that I am aware of for institutional abuse or for that matter any Australian scheme that’s been out there,” Griffith University Professor Kathleen Daly told the inquiry in February.
All child sexual abuse survivors should be eligible for redress, the Anglican and Uniting churches and Salvation Army told the inquiry.
“It is well known and recognised by the royal commission that some survivors as a result of their abuse have engaged in abusive conduct themselves, including criminal conduct,” their joint submission said.
“We believe the scheme needs to provide equal access and equal treatment to all survivors and not just particular classes of people,” the Uniting Church’s Rev John Cox told the public hearing.
The Catholic Church did not support the exclusion.
On Friday, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan Tehan said the scheme would only be able to deliver its full potential if every state and territory signed up along with non-government institutions. “I urge the premiers in all of the jurisdictions to prioritise this work and join the redress scheme without further delay,” Mr Tehan said.
Earlier this week, South Australia suggested it would join the national redress scheme. The state had previously sat on the fence because it was already establishing its own compensation arrangements.
Most churches and charities back a truly national scheme, but want outstanding issues resolved before making a final decision to opt-in.
Unless they do so by the July 1 start date it could be a Commonwealth-only scheme covering just 1000 of the estimated 60,000 institutional child sexual abuse survivors.
Mr Clark said he and his partner had received a total of about $160k in compensation from the church over the years but that it had barely covered medical expenses.
“You get raped and bashed and have your life turned upside then get trickled through money that covers your accommodation while travelling interstate for surgeries and other things just to keep you alive,” he said.
“In the US the average law suit was one million dollars paid to victims.
“I am just one of many people whose lives have been trashed by churches and other organisations who hid paedophiles and protected them.”
It is just possible that those survivors who went on to become criminals are among those who were most brutally abused. The exclusion would mean the most abused children would get nothing. Victimization again!
A WOMAN woke to find her husband sexually assaulting a young girl having a sleepover in their Ipswich home in Queensland.
The angry wife yelled, “What’s going on? Why?” and assaulted her husband while the child slept, unaware she was being violated.
The man, 53, fled interstate after his wife confronted him.
PREVIOUSLY JAILED FOR RAPING A CHILD
The girl, aged 13, was one of three girls, friends of his children, that the man sexually assaulted at the family home. He molested a fourth girl left in the family’s care by the Department of Child Safety.
Ipswich District Court this week heard the man had previously been jailed for raping a child in 2010.
This time he pleaded guilty to one count of indecent treatment of a child aged under 16 while under his care, and nine counts of indecent treatment of children aged under 12.
Judge Dennis Lynch said the man was a recidivist child sex offender who was a danger to children.
DAD HAD NOT OFFENDED AGAINST HIS OWN CHILDREN
Crown prosecutor Ben Jackson said the offences happened in 2016. The man has been held in custody for 19 months.
A report before the court found the dad had not offended against his own children and was not a danger to them.
Mr Jackson said the man’s wife caught him indecently using his mouth on a girl aged 13 as she slept.
He said the other victims were aged between eight and 11 and involved indecent touching.
Mr Jackson said the offences were a breach of trust as the children had been staying in his home — and the precious nature of children must be protected.
He said the offences also showed a persistence in his behaviour.
The Crown sought a head sentence of no fewer than five years with the man to serve one-third which he was just weeks from completing.
Defence barrister Scott Neaves said the dad should complete a sex offenders’ program but had no access to this while being held on remand and his case was being finalised.
ELIGIBLE TO APPLY IMMEDIATELY FOR PAROLE
As he had now been in jail more than 580 days, he would likely be released. Mr Neaves said his client also had issues with alcohol.
Judge Lynch agreed the convicted man should undertake a sex offenders’ course, saying the dad was a danger to the community.
For the most serious offence, the man was sentenced to four years’ jail, and to lesser jail terms on the others — served concurrently.
Arrrrgh! He should not be permitted back in society while his children are still children and have friends who are children. More children are going to get hurt because of this pathetic excuse for a sentence!
He was eligible to apply immediately for parole, a process that can take months.
Luke Strimbold, the former membership chair of the BC Liberals who was once British Columbia's youngest mayor, has been charged with 24 offences including sexual assault and sexual interference.
The victims are not identified in this story, however, the last restriction above makes it obvious that the victim(s) were children, not adults.
An official at the provincial court registry confirmed Mr. Strimbold's next court appearance is scheduled for April 6, in Burns Lake, which is about 200 kilometres west of Prince George.
The identities of the alleged victims are protected under a publication ban.
On Friday afternoon, the BC Liberals said they had just become aware of the matter via social media. "Mr. Strimbold has now resigned as membership chair and as a member of the party," the party said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the RCMP said Mr. Strimbold is facing allegations that occurred in 2016 and that investigators are looking into the possibility that there are more victims in the case, who have not yet spoken to police.
The provincial court registry in Burns Lakes confirmed Mr. Strimbold is facing eight charges of sexual assault, seven charges of sexual interference, five charges of an invitation to sexual touching and four charges of sexual exploitation.
At the age of 21, Mr. Strimbold was elected mayor of Burns Lake in 2011 and was at the forefront of leading Burns Lake's recovery from a 2012 explosion at the Babine Forest Products sawmill – the community's largest employer – that killed two and wounded 20.
When he heard the news, Mr. Strimbold was at a family gathering in Vancouver, according to BC Business magazine, which named him to their 30 under 30 list of 2014.
Prior to the opening of the "two sessions," China's big annual political meetings, a seminar organized by the Girls' Protection Foundation and Foundation of China Culture and Arts for Children was held in Beijing on Mar. 2, focused on protecting children from sexual abuse.
According to a report released by the Girl's Protection Foundation, 378 cases of sexual abuse against children were reported in 2017. In half of the cases, the perpetrator was a family member or someone known to the child.
Out of 606 victims, over 90 percent were girls. At least 58 boys were sexually abused, a two percent increase in such cases compared to 2016. Around 65 percent of the victims were between the age of seven to 14.
These numbers are absurdly small and almost certainly reflect only those cases that were reported to police and acted upon by the police. It is likely that it represents a very small, single-digit percentage of what really occurred.
Unfortunately, inadequate data like this masks the enormity of the issue and weakens political support for change. You must get more accurate data!
"In an effort to protect our children from sexual abuse, we need more support from the government, society, schools and families," said Sun Xuemei, founder of the Girls' Protection Foundation. "With our combined efforts, I hope young people can live in a better world than we do."
Established in 2013, the non-governmental organization was launched by a group of female reporters, aiming to protect children through the funding of lectures, campaigns and research to prevent sexual violence against the young, especially females.
Education is necessary
Sun's ideas on stepping up efforts to teach children how to protect themselves from sexual abuse were echoed by CPPCC members, NPC deputies, children protection experts, lawyers and other children rights campaigners.
Liu Li, a deputy with the National People's Congress, believes family education should play a vital and fundamental role.
However, for those "left-behind" children in rural areas, living with relatives as their migrant worker parents are earning money in distant cities, school textbooks on how to protect themselves from sexual abuse are also essential.
"The dearth of sex education and everlasting lack of love from within the family pose series of psychological risks for these ‘left behind' children, as they may be misguided by strangers' deceptive intentions, or even too afraid to talk about what they have been through," Liu said, adding that the sexual abuse cases reported are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Last year, the Girls Protection Foundation polled more than 6,000 students from urban and rural areas, and almost half of respondents said they had not received any sex-education program regarding prevention of sexual abuse, suggesting a huge gap in the national curriculum in this particular area.
Online sexual abuse a hidden risk for children
This year's report also particularly mentioned six cases of online child sexual abuse. In these cases, live streaming platforms, such as the now inaccessible website known as "West Wind" in English, filmed "indecent" videos of children and profited through spreading "child pornography" online.
Live streaming has emerged strongly in China in recent years. However, problems such as the streaming of obscenity, violence and other inappropriate content surfaced with the expansion of the market. In recent months, Chinese authorities have stepped up their efforts to crack down websites selling indecent videos of children and display disturbing cartoons targeting children.
"In essence, sexual assault against children has nothing to do with sexual activity or behavior. It is just violence. And online child sex abuse is surely a violence against the child. Without regulation and protection, children tend to suffer both mentally and physically, and even develop permanent brain damage." Song Wenzhen, deputy director of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, said in highlighting the risks of sexual abuse.
Song said many victims still bear the scars of such abuse into adulthood, some of which could be easily develop into them committing sex crimes on other children, if there is no immediate professional care service.
Tong Xiaojun, professor at the Social Work Education Center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences proposed to set up an effective channel for people to report indecent videos of children to relevant authorities, calling for wide regulation from the government and society.
Tong has been dedicated to legal protection work for minors for years. And his call for building an effective legislative mechanism comes at a time when a number of high profile child sexual abuse scandals have been exposed over the past couple of years.
"If there are no clear-cut penalties for child abuse crimes, such scandals will continue to increase. And children will suffer more mentally than physically from mistreatment," said Tong.
In addition, many lawyers proposed to establish an effective mechanism to prevent perpetrators from working as teachers in primary schools and publicize their identities to alert society. They said good progress has been made in piloting such proposals in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, and these are expected to be extended to other areas of the country shortly.
Zhang Xuemei, the deputy director of the Committee on Protection of Minors, of the All China Lawyers Association, confirmed that huge progress has been achieved in exploring effective measures to prevent children from sexual abuse.
"It's one small step towards a better legal protection for the minors, and I hope there will be more," Zhang added.