Can you imagine having been pregnant without knowing it until you were about to give birth? Well, imagine just how frightening it would be for a ten year old girl.
Last Tuesday, the girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – began to complain in class about excruciating stomach pains. The pains were so severe that school officials had her quickly evacuated to the nearest hospital. Upon reaching the emergency room, doctors soon made the shocking discovery that the girl was actually seven months pregnant and in the latter stages of labor. Shortly afterwards, she gave birth.
In spite of the mother’s incredibly young age and the premature birth, the baby was born without complications. Both are still recovering in hospital.
According to the girl’s family, not even the girl herself knew she was pregnant. “The mother alleges that she, along with other family members, hadn’t noticed, taking into consideration the child’s small frame,” a spokesman for the police department said.
After the birth, the girl delivered a shocking confession to her mother: that her forty year old stepfather had sexually assaulted her. The girl’s mother immediately informed the authorities who then interviewed the child, learning that the stepfather had made the chilling threat to kill her entire family if she told anyone about his abuse.
Although not living with the family at the time of the birth, the stepfather was arrested soon after, confessing to the allegations and being charged with child rape and possession of an illegal firearm.
In a statement to police, the girl’s mother said that her daughter had begun to struggle at school and had become distant with her friends and family since October 2014, which suggests that the abuse could have been going on for quite some time.
Child pregnancies are extremely dangerous, with girls under the age of 15 being five times more likely to die during labor than women over the age of 20. As their bodies are not yet fully developed, they may experience complications such as eclampsia, premature, prolonged or obstructed labor, fistula, anemia, or even the death of the baby or mother.
Accurate child abuse statistics are difficult to ascertain, given that many cases are not reported, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, research puts the number at about one in five girls and one in twenty boys. Research also shows that the most vulnerable age groups are those between seven and thirteen years old, with three from every four victims being subject to abuse by someone that they already know, such as family members or authority figures, making this a shockingly significant problem that is worthy of national action.
Beyond the immediate physical trauma of an attack, the effects of child sex abuse have far reaching consequences that can lead to problems in adulthood, such as a pattern of victimization, low self esteem and depression, suicidal thoughts and other complex emotional issues.
If you know of a child that may be at risk, tell the authorities immediately. Being the victim of a false accusation is also extremely stressful and potentially degrading, but the importance of saving the life of a child is paramount.
Have you ever known a victim of child sexual abuse? Please share your stories with us here and check out the video below about a similar case.