Sexual abuse of minors increases in Spain: herds, virtual harassment and the aggressor at home

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Tuesday, 23 February 2021 – 13:53

A study by the ANAR Foundation reveals the reality of the sexual abuse of minors: the cases have not stopped increasing for five years and the experts demand “the limitation of access to certain contents”

A girl with her personal belongings during confinement.
CARLOS GARCA-POZO

Although it is hard to believe, in little more than a decade, between 2008 and 2020, cases of sexual abuse of minors have increased in an “extraordinary” way, according to the ANAR Foundation, specialized in the eradication of the matter and that, after extensive work, has brought to light the data: there has been an increase of 300.4%, from 273 cases in 2008 to 1,093 in 2020.

The great jump occurs between 2017 and 2018, when the 715 cases of sexual abuse in minors rose to 1,038. On the rise since the last five or six years, the ANAR Foundation experts, very concerned with this drift, They attribute the increase to the fact that abuses also began to occur through new technologies, that is, through social networks and applications.

Two phenomena were generated at the same time and they are behind the numbers. What is known as grooming by 36.7%, for now. What does this mean? That “an adult pretends to be a minor to end up sexually abusing the victim,” he explains Benjamin Ballesteros, director of the ANAR Foundation. “They bait the victim for months until they gain their trust and enter their networks, they get some type of material about minors and then their extortion begins to abuse them.”

The other issue is the sexting, which has increased 25% in the last five years. It is a practice that involves sending images or videos with sexual content, but among minors, “boyfriends who at a given moment are showing videos and who, without the consent of the victim, one of them sends that information to third parties.”

“It happens among adolescents in their first romantic relationships, but it is a crime. You just have to think about how the cases of herds have also increased, from 2 to 10 in 11 years, that is, one in 10 cases are group sexual abuse and this is outrageous “, expand from ANAR, which works to raise awareness and propose a collection of signatures to increase it.

” The reason is the uncontrolled access to the internet and violent and pornographic content, as there is no parental control, they begin to educate themselves in sexuality through pornography, so that adolescents integrate certain practices as if they were normal,” continues Ballesteros, for those who have no choice but to “limit access to certain content” on the internet.

The victim profile is predominantly female (78.3%), although boys also suffer from it (21.7%). The average age of minors who are sexually abused is 11 but there is an alarming 16% of 5-year-olds who are also experiencing it.

Another problem is that abuses are not usually accidental or happen only once, but are repeated over time. Sometimes too long. The abuse is repeated in 69% of the cases. In only 31% it happens only on one occasion. In males, it usually lasts for about a year. In girls, it can be lengthened up to three.

As if that were not enough, more than half of the cases (53%) of sexual abuse are accompanied by physical violence, an issue that increases as the age of the victim is older. That is, it happens more with adolescents.

The report prepared by the ANAR Foundation, Sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence according to those affected and their evolution in Spain (2008-2019), is extremely complete and also tells what it costs to hear: the detail of what the sexual abuse of minors in our country consists of.

There was obscene touching in up to 35% of cases, there was penetration – with violence in 10% of the cases and without it in 7% of them. The argument goes like this: forcing the minor to masturbate, possessing child pornography and displaying it, group aggressions (herds) and even prostitution of the minor.

One of the problems when it comes to demonstrating these abuses is that there is “great difficulty” in achieving it since the perpetrators “leave no marks.” In 80% of cases, no discernible traces of abuse remain.

It is usually the victim himself who asks for help and relates what he is experiencing. It is well known in ANAR that they provide care for minors in various telematic ways that even allow the lines of text to disappear the minute they are sent and that there is no trace of the conversation.

Profile of the aggressor

In 95.8 of the cases, the aggressor is a male, seven out of 10 aggressors are of legal age. There is alarm about group aggressions, since in 10.5% of cases the abuse is perpetrated by more than one person. In 80% of the cases the abuser belongs to the family circle. In up to 23% of cases, the abuser is the father of the minor, although the proportion of the mother’s partners who abuse has also increased.

Confinement and abuse

Abuses also increased during the strict confinement of 2020. In the supposedly safest place, where you can be yourself and feel even peace, the home, there are minors who are not only isolated, without school and without seeing their friends but They have also suffered serious cases of domestic violence that, exacerbated by confinement, paint an alarming panorama for those who saw it coming from the beginning.

The ANAR Foundation noticed this when we had been locked up for a month: Between March 23 and 30 there were 270 communications warning of violent situations, and 173 serious cases in which the minors were suffering some problem within their own home.

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