Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Family

Essay by digby89College, UndergraduateA+, November 2006

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There is nothing more important than the protection and safety of all children from abuse of any kind. Unfortunately, many children slip through the cracks of society and become victims of abuse that leave them physically and/or permanently psychologically harmed. Child abuse can happen to any child, anywhere in the world. According to the Canadian government, child abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver mistreats or neglects a child in any way that results in injury, emotional, psychological harm or any other serious risk of harm to the child.

Abuse against children typically falls into four categories: child neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and probably the most serious of them all sexual abuse (Justice, 2005). According to the government's definition, sexual abuse specifically refers to the act being committed by a family member or caregiver; in any other case it is legally considered sexual assault. Either way, regardless of who commits the act, the effects and the results are often very similar to the victim.

In the United States, approximately 90% of all sexual abuse cases reported are perpetrated by either a family member or a close family friend such as a babysitter, aunt or uncle (Whealin, 2005). The number of reported cases is considered by most experts to be much lower than actual cases that occur because of the social stigma that is attached to the topic. Victims oftentimes do not report the abuse because of fear or shame, thinking that they were at fault when in reality; it is always the abusers who are to blame (De Benedictis, 2005).

The purpose of this paper is to introduce sexual abuse, analyze the problem from a sociological perspective and the possible reasons why abuse happens in the family and provide information regarding the aftermath of sexual abuse on the victims...