Unnamed parents of a 5-year-old were horrified when they discovered their daughter’s illustrations of her sexual abuse by a priest.
The little girl suddenly wanted to stop taking English classes with the cleric who taught them in Montes Claras, in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. But once her mother and father saw her drawings, they knew exactly why.
A child psychologist the girl was seeing suggested her parents search her room for any clues, according to Daily Mail.
Hidden in her books were six distressing sketches by the girl recording the sexual abuse.
One drawing appears to show a man hanging over a child who has a look of fear on her face.
Another illustration is thought to show a man forcing himself between a girl’s legs.
Father Joao da Silva, 54, confessed to the abuse after the girl’s livid father confronted him in a phone call, he told police.
“We found six drawings among the child’s belongings,” Karine Maia from the Delegation for Stopping Crimes Against Women said at a press conference, Metro reports. “One of them that caught our attention shows the face of a naked man with an erect penis.”
UniSA child protection expert Dr. Elspeth McInnes says that children’s illustrations can often point to abuse if parents are astute enough to identity the warning signs.
“The situation calls for more information to be given to teachers and others like parents who care for children to identify the warning signs,’’ she told Adelaide Now. “These depictions and what to look out for are not secret but they are not widely available. People should be able to look at a child’s drawing and sense if it is a good comfortable picture or if it gives then the sense of ‘Oh, I wonder what is going on with my child'”
According to Dr. Carmit Katz of Tel Aviv University’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work, sketches by children are a crucial tool in forensic child abuse investigations, reports Psych Central.
“The act of drawing was not only an empowering experience for these children, we also found it to be forensically more effective in eliciting richer testimonies in child abuse cases,” said Katz. “We had no idea the gap would be so great between those who drew and those who weren’t given this option.”
The priest is currently detained and being interviewed by authorities over child abuse charges.
Sources: Daily Mail, Metro, Adelaide Now, Psych Central / Photo credit: CEN via Metro