The number of male children and teenage boys who were the victims of sexual assault in Taiwan last year surged to 910 from 81 in 2002, a more than 10-fold increase during the period, according to Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday.
In an international conference held on the treatment of such victims, Lee Mei-chen (李美珍), executive secretary of the ministry’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee, attributed the rise to an increase in the number of cases coming to light, as well as an increase in the number of cases of consensual intercourse.
“For many years, measures taken in this country for handling sexual assault cases have been more likely to focus on female victims. It is also easy for parents to ignore [the problem],” she said.
The committee has also discovered that efforts in the past to revise the act governing sexual assault prevention, no efforts were made by the authorities and relevant civil groups to enhance professional skill in the fields of the judiciary, the police, education and health when handling cases involving male victims, Lee said.
Yesterday’s one-day conference, sponsored by the ministry, was attended by about 230 government officials, social services personnel, school teachers and psychological counselors.
Senior British psychologist John Woods, who works for the Portman Clinic in London, was invited to share his expertise and experience in providing psychotherapy to young people who had been the victims of sexual assault.
In a speech at the opening ceremony of the event, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) cited official statistics showing that overall there were 13,686 sexual assault cases reported to the authorities last year, an increase of 25.7 percent from the previous year.
In the first six months of the year, he said, the number of reported cases reached 7,746, up by 17.6 percent from the same period last year.
“The figures indicate a regular yearly increase in the number of sexual assault cases,” he said.
He also pointed out that about 60 percent of the victims of sexual assault were underage.
Describing some of the signs of sexual abuse among children and teenagers, Woods said such victims usually exhibit violent behavior and truancy, as well as bed-wetting and sleep problems.
Young people who have active sex lives are indiscriminate in their choices of sexual partners, or appear to be confused as to the boundaries of human relationships, and are probably victims of sexual assault, he said, noting that for most of these victims, their childhood trauma will accompany them throughout their lives.
Woods suggested that parents should help their children acquire knowledge of the body and sex, should build parent-child relations on the basis of mutual trust and should teach children how to properly use the Internet so that their kids can develop healthy relationships.