NOTE: This article was originally posted on September 15, 2023 on the Japanese CRN website.
Regardless of the age or gender of the victim, sexual abuse is considered to be a serious crime not only because it is an act that violates the dignity of the victim as a human being, but also because it is known to cause considerable life-long psychological damage to the victim. In one extreme incident in the United States, a man was found guilty of 29 cases of sexual abuse of four girls and sentenced to 275 years in prison in June 2021.*1 Numerous follow-up studies on the psychological damage have also been conducted and show a significant increase in depression and suicide among adult women who were sexually abused in childhood compared to those who did not experience sexual abuse.*2
It is also known that sexual abuse of a male child by an adult male is marked by characteristics that are not seen in the sexual abuse of a female child. Boys who have experienced sexual abuse are afraid of being seen as homosexual because they are aware of the continuing discrimination in society today and the difficulty of "coming out." This, of course, leads to the serious mental health problems upon reaching adulthood such as depression and even higher suicide rates.*3
In Japan where there are relatively few incidents of sexual abuse, this situation is less known and recognized in society. This can be seen in the efforts by large show business production companies that have received much attention in the news recently for dealing with many serious problems of sexual abuse.
One production company that was named after a former late president who was found guilty of sexual abuse announced that the company name would not be changed. However, according to international common sense and practices, preserving the company name even after the person for whom it was named is found guilty of a serious crime is an act that totally lacks social understanding of the meaning of sexual abuse and its seriousness.
These numerous cases of sexual abuse have most certainly left large scars in the lives of the boys who have been subjected to abuse. Furthermore, these cases have been widely reported, and even the many children who have seen or heard about sexual abuse do not clearly understand the definition. This is creating a considerable negative effect when young people lose trust in adults that make up society.
As someone whose work and activities focus on the quality of life and mental health development of children, I feel a sense of whole-hearted outrage at this situation and the response.
- *1 Oregon man gets 'unheard of' 275-year sentence for child sex crimes
- *2 Francesca Bentivegna, Praveetha Patalay. The impact of sexual violence in mid-adolescence on mental health: a UK population-based longitudinal study. Lancet Psychiatry 2022;9: 874-83.
- *3 Reece, RM and Christian CW, Eds. Child Abuse-Medical Diagnosis & Management. American Academy of Pediatrics、2009, p275.