Taipei, July 30 (CNA) The number of male children and teenage boys who were victims of sexual assault in Taiwan last year surged to 910 from 81 in 2002, a 10-times increase during the period, according to Ministry of the Interior (MOI) statistics released Monday.
In an international conference that day on the treatment of such victims, Lee Mei-chen, executive secretary of the MOI'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 during past efforts to revise the act governing sexual assault prevention, the authorities and relevant civil groups made no efforts to enhance professional ability in the fields of the judiciary, the police, education and health when handling cases involving male victims, Lee said.
The one-day conference, sponsored by the MOI, was attended by around 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 for young sexual assault victims.
In a speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, Deputy Interior Minister Chien Tai-lang cited official statistics showing that there were 13,686 sexual assault cases reported to the relevant authorities last year, an increase of 25.7 percent from the previous year.
In the first six months of the year, he went on, the number of reported cases reached 7,746, up by 17.6 percent from the same period of 2011. "The figures indicate a regular yearly increase in the number of sexual assault cases," he said.
He also pointed out that around 60 percent of the sexual assault victims 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, 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.
(By Angela Tsai and Elizabeth Hsu)