The sexual abuse of children is a serious and persistent problem in Saudi Arabia, as it is in every country, worldwide. However, it is only recently that any kind of official statistics and academic studies have begun to be published on this issue in Saudi Arabia and there remains a great scarceness of data on the subject owing to its sensitivity in a society that is highly conservative and reluctant to discuss such matters openly. Services and programs aiming at addressing the problem in the Kingdom remain at an infant stage, and much still needs to be done in the form of raising public awareness of the issue and setting up mechanisms by which children at risk can readily and safely inform the appropriate authorities of their circumstances and receive prompt attention and protection.
Research, over many years, has shown that any form of childhood abuse is likely to have significant short-, medium-, and long-term consequences for the individual, in terms of their psychological, physical, social, moral, and educational development. Thus, swift action and intervention where abuse has, or is likely to, take place is of great importance. However, the establishment of effective services and programs depends on a thorough understanding of the scale and nature of the problem in the particular social and cultural setting in which it occurs.
The present work consists of a systematic review of the limited literature currently available on child sexual abuse in Saudi Arabia. It examines the findings of the studies carried out to date, including such statistical data on sexual abuse as is currently available, and makes recommendations for future action by researchers and government agencies within the country.
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