Childhood Sexual Abuse

Essay by umd_girlUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

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In the last decade, the concern about the sexual abuse of children in the United States has intensified. During the 1980's, researchers, professionals and the general public came to realize the magnitude of this problem of sexual abuse. Initially, there was primarily a concern for girls, but over time there became more acknowledgment of a vast amount of boys that were also victimized (Turner, 1996). Currently in the United States, one out of three females and one out of five males have been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18 years (Dominguez, Nelke, and Perry, 2002). Children who are sexually abused have many harmful consequences that remain throughout their lives. Many of these children will have various short term and long term problems.

Childhood sexual abuse can be defined in two ways; physical contact (i.e. fondling, either attempted or completed vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse), or non-contact (i.e.

exhibitionism, masturbation, and exposure to sexually explicit or pornographic materials) (Wyatt, Guthrie, and Notgrass, 1992). It is any sexual activity involving a child where consent is not or cannot be given. In a report released by the National Institute of Justice in 1997, of the 22.3 million children in the United States between the ages of 12 and 17 years, 1.8 million were victims of serious sexual abuse. The type and severity of effects on children often depend; on a variety of factors. They include the age of the child when they were abused, how long the experience lasted, the degree of shame or guilt experienced by the child, the development of the child, and who the offender was. The children that have been sexually abused may display negative behaviors and attitudes (Kinnear, 1995). When a child has been sexually abused by a parent or loved one, his or...