False beliefs about sexual abuse against children: A reality still too present in 2007



    MONTREAL, June 12 /CNW Telbec/ - An Echo survey undertaken by the
Marie-Vincent Foundation, in cooperation with the Centre d'expertise en
agression sexuelle Marie-Vincent, brings to light today the overwhelming
reality of child sexual abuse victims. According to the data, nearly seven out
of ten Quebecers underestimate the extent of the problem of sexual abuse
toward children, and more than half don't know whom to contact to denounce
maltreatment against children.
    The Echo survey, carried out from March 5 to April 12, 2007 via telephone
interviews of a representative sample of 1,000 male and female Quebecers aged
18 and over, and able to converse in French, shows that false beliefs still
exist concerning the nature of acts committed by the abuser, the reaction of
children and ignorance of resources.
    Earlier surveys carried out by the Marie-Vincent Foundation revealed that
Quebecers understand the importance of breaking the silence and speaking
openly of abuse. Moreover, a large majority of persons know they have a legal
obligation to make a report when there are reasonable grounds to believe a
child is abused. Nonetheless, 22.6% of persons questioned believe that solid
proof is required before reporting to authorities, which could lead to
significant consequences for victims.
    "While nearly half of victims are between six and eleven years old when
they are first abused, it is surprising to learn that one out of four adults
believes that a child may provoke sexual abuse by his or her behaviour, that
abuse occurs on the street or at school rather than in a private setting, and
that an abused child victim will resist with force or try to get away",
indicated Mr. Claude Girouard, member of the board of both the Marie-Vincent
Foundation and the Centre d'expertise en agression sexuelle Marie-Vincent. As
far as acts committed by the abuser, one out of two adults believe that sexual
abuse against children must necessarily involve anal or vaginal sexual
relations.
    It is already established that 90% of abuse committed against children is
never disclosed to authorities. So it is not surprising to learn from the
present survey that yet nearly six out of ten persons questioned acknowledge
not knowing the resources designed to assist child maltreatment victims.
    Results of the survey confirm that education of the Québec population
regarding sexual abuse must continue. "The survey carried out for the
Marie-Vincent Foundation shows that Quebecers, even in 2007, underestimate the
extent of the problem of sexual abuse against children. To this effect, the
topic of sexual abuse needs to be maintained in families, the media, companies
and communities. The Marie-Vincent Foundation, with its annual awareness
campaign and services offered by its Centre d'expertise en agression sexuelle
Marie-Vincent, intends to pursue this objective," said Ms. Lucie Joyal,
executive director of the Centre d'expertise.

    Since 1975, the Marie-Vincent Foundation's mission has been to prevent
situations of abuse and neglect toward children under twelve. The Foundation
also helps abuse victims by offering therapeutic services through its Centre
d'expertise en agression sexuelle and research carried out by the
Marie-Vincent interuniversity Chair on sexual abuse toward children.




For further information:

For further information: Gaétane Vincent, Public Relations, (514)
705-2085, Vincent.gaetane@videotron.ca; Source: Dominique Richard, Executive
Director, Marie-Vincent Foundation, (514) 362-6226,
drichard@marie-vincent.org

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