A new study by researchers at the University of Tartu found that 32 percent of Estonian children and young people experience sexual abuse, but that only a small percentage of them ever turn to a specialist with the problem.
Postimees reported that the study also found that slightly more than half of the children and young people affected tell someone about it, but they usually tell a friend, and later on perhaps their mother or a brother or sister, but not the authorities, a social pedagogue, a teacher or a therapist.
Only few children and young people turn to an adult for help, mainly as a result of shame and guilt. They don't want to upset their parents, or think that they might not be believed.
The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, found that 7 percent of girls are raped, and that about a third of 15 to 19-year-old Estonians experience at least one incident of sexual abuse during their lives, mainly groping or unwanted nudity.
The perpetrator is hardly ever a stranger, but rather someone the victims know well, such as a relative, a neighbor, or a relative of a friend.
Compared to a similar study conducted in 2003, there was hardly a difference in the statistics of sexual abuse cases. Only physical violence has somewhat declined, said Kadri Soo, one of the authors of the study. In addition, talking about sexual violence is not such a taboo anymore, even boys talk about it more, she added.
The study also investigated the attitudes of young people and found that 66 to 84 percent of young people believe in myths about rape, for instance that if a girl says “no”, she actually means “yes.” The belief in this particular myth is especially high among the Russian speaking youth, Postimees reported.
The study was carried out among 16 to 18-year-olds who stated to have experienced sexual abuse mainly between the ages of 14 and 16.