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Tuesday 17 December 2012

Press Review: Preconditions for child sexual abuse

One of the most widely discussed theories of child sexual abuse is David Finkelhor’s Four Preconditions Model of Child Sexual Abuse.
David Finkelhor is an American Professor of Sociology and Director of Crimes Against Children Research Centre. He claims that sexual abuse results from a perpetrator sequentially overcoming each of four obstacles to the sexually abusive act.

For an act of sexual abuse to occur, the four preconditions must be met:

1. The motivation to sexually abuse a child: This motivation may be a result of a need to feel powerful over someone as compensation for past childhood abuse. Watching child pornography has been implicated.

At risk are people unable to get their sexual needs met in a normal and appropriate way, perhaps through lack of social skills to form intimate relationships with an adult or not being allowed any time to form these relationships as happens with many young house-helps in Kenya.

2. Overcoming internal inhibitors: Internal inhibitions relate to the individuals’ personal awareness of the inappropriateness of the sexual contact and their willingness and/or ability to control their impulses towards children.

There is evidence that sexual abusers rationalise their conduct and attempt to provide justification for their sexual activity with children. If that fails, alcohol or drugs work well to overcome this inhibition.

3. Overcoming external inhibitors: An environment that keeps a child safe robs the perpetrator of the opportunity to abuse. This could range from close supervision by parents, caregivers or guardians and protected physical facilities at home or school.

4. Overcoming child resistance: This is about trust. When the child develops trust in a person, it sets the stage for sexual abuse.

Providing primary school children with information on sexual abuse would enable them to be aware of what the person is trying to do, which may give a child courage to resist despite threats.

Parents being close to the child and being able to discuss issues with children will reduce the chance of a child being abused.

One may say that if precondition number one, the urge to have sexual relations with a child, was not there, the problem would be sorted.

As researchers grapple with how to deal with child sexual abusers, stiff sentences go a long way to stop potential abusers from fulfilling the urges.

In the absence of life imprisonment, paedophiles jailed and released without any treatment or counselling will repeat-offend as the urge will still be there.


  • Boys may not report abuse for fear of being thought homosexual

  • They may treat abuse by older women or girls as a form of initiation to things adult

  • Boys suffer psychologically in the same way as girls as a result of the sexual abuse yet, services for boys are not talked about

  • Like girls, boys are assaulted mostly by people they know

  • Male adults are less likely about to talk about sexual abuse in their childhood than women will do


Institutions that offer advocacy and legal support

  • African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANCPPCN)

  • Child Rights Advisory and Legal Center (Cradle) Children Legal Action Network (Clan) Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children Rights (KAACR)

  • Children’s Desks at different police stations.

  • The Children’s Department through District Children’s Officers under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social and Development.


  • Koinonia Community has five such institutions namely Kivuli Center, Anita Home, Tone La Maji, Ndugu Mdogo Kibera, Kivuli Ndogo.

  • Other institutions that are proactive in the above include Undugu Society and Shangilia Mtoto Wa Afrika, among others.


  • Nairobi Women’s Hospital’s Gender Violence and Recovery Centre.

  • Government referral hospitals.

Published on Nation Newspaper Posted  Monday, December 17  2012 at  02:00

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