Sexual abuse and assaults on children and adolescents happen even in the best of circles. No social class is immune.
And yet all too often a shadow of silence lies over the events: Families protect their dark secrets, mothers look away, affected children and adolescents avoid speaking out due to fear, shame and loyalty. Yet this silence demands a high price: Victims often have to fight with health problems and high costs accrue for society as a whole due to the consequences of sexual abuse. Despite these apparent injustices, there are few reliable scientific studies on the topic. However knowledge is urgently needed in order to provide better preventive care and victim support.Abuse affects a high number of children and adolescent in Switzerland with many of the cases going unreported.
The UBS Optimus Foundation is now closing this gap with the Optimus Study. This global research project aims to conduct studies in various countries on the scope, context and forms of sexual violence. The initial results of the research conducted in Switzerland are now available. The results confirm existing assumptions, and also reveal completely new findings. What most surprised us in our evaluation of the survey of high school students, explains Professor Manuel Eisner of Cambridge University, who co wrote the final scientific report, was that in most cases involving adolescent victims, the perpetrator was a peer, often a boyfriend or a girlfriend, another student or a date. Around one fifth of all girls and one tenth of boys between the ages of 15 and 17 have already experienced at least one sexual assault involving physical contact. In around half of the cases, the perpetrators were peers.An expected, and yet shocking result is the number of unreported cases: only three to five percent of cases of assault with physical contact are reported or psychologically treated. This shows how taboo this subject continues to be in this country despite all the information campaigns and offers for help. Dr. Patricia Lannen, coordinator of the study, explains: Most adolescents confide in their friends. Only four percent of adolescents who have experienced assaults with physical contact and told someone about it turned to doctors or psychologists, and only five percent told the police. Reduction in child abuse is the principle goal of the Optimus Study
The Optimus Study aims to reduce incidences of child abuse by sharing the research results with organizations active in child protection. In parallel to this, the UBS Optimus Foundation creates platforms to enable active exchange in the area of prevention. Promising activities and projects have already begun to improve the situation throughout the country. For more detailed information on the study: www.optimusstudy.orgUBS Optimus Foundation:
The grant foundation founded by UBS has dedicated itself for over ten years to the well-being of disadvantaged children throughout the world. The focus of the foundation lies on the education, protection and health of children.