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11 June 2015 | 17:00

Sexual abuse : BICE International Congress – 2015

©BICE - may 2015

In May 2015, the BICE held its international conference on sexual abuse. Dedicated to methods of prevention and accompaniment of children who are victims of sexual abuse, the event was held at Collège des Bernardins in Paris.  

Sexual abuse, a painful and taboo subject

Recent studies on the phenomena indicate that one in five children have suffered from sexual violence before the age of 18. (Source: Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire and WHO working group against exploitation and sexual abuse.)

Sexual abuse affects children from all countries and social class, destroying the dignity of millions of children and teenagers each year.

The subject appears to be covered by a leaden silence: in 85% of cases, the sexual abuse is committed by a member of the family or a person the child is supposed to trust. (Source: Protecting Children against sexual abuse, Council of Europe – A comprehensive approach).

Cases reported to authorities are therefore rare: denial, traumatic amnesia or even fear of accusing a member of the family discourages victims to go to the legal authorities.

More than eight in ten cases, the sexual abuse is repeated for many years and is accompanied by psychological and physical violence. (Source: AIVI manifeste des victimes d’inceste). In France, a study conducted in 2014 with adults victims of sexual violence, revealed that more than one victim in two was less than 11 years old at the time of the abuse (Source: Mémoire traumatique et victimologie, rapport 2015: “impact des violences sexuelles à l’âge adulte”).

Why a conference to fight against the scourge of sexual abuse?

The BICE International Conference, “Child sexual abuse: protection mechanisms and resilience,” aimed to improve the compliance to the rights of children and to accompany the child victims better in order to favour resilience.

On May 20, 2015, the conference of the International Catholic Child Bureau, reunited partners working in the field, members from BICE’s network, experts on the subject, government representatives and media.

The goal of this event was to:

  • Study with greater depth the causes and consequences of sexual abuse
  • Present good accompaniment practices which have been validated and assessed
  • Facilitate the pooling of knowledge between the organizations on the field, the university environment and public authorities
  • Formulate a collection of recommendations which organizations can use in their strategies of advocacy at the national, regional and international level
  • Contribute to media and public awareness, especially in France.

Final statements from the conference on sexual abuse