April 22, 210
Child Sexual Abuse
There is no universal definition of child sexual abuse. However, a central characteristic of any abuse is the dominant position of an adult that allows his or her to force or coerce a child into sexual activity. Child sexual abuse may include fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration,vaginal, and anal intercourse. Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact; such abuse could include noncontact abuse, such as exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography. Statistics on the prevalence of child and adolescent sexual abuse are difficult to collect because of problems of underreporting and the lack of one definition of what constitutes such abuse. However, there is ageneral agreement among mental health and child protection professionals that child sexual abuse is not uncommon and is a serious problem in the United States. The impact of sexual abuse can range from no apparent to very severe ones. Typically, children who experience the most serious types of abuse- abuse involving family members and high degrees of physical force- exhibit behaviors problemsranging from separation anxiety to posttraumatic stress disorder. Children who are the victims of sexual abuse are also often exposed to a variety of other stressors and difficult circumstances in their lives, including parental substance abuse. The sexual abuse and its aftermath may be only part of the child's negative experiences and subsequent behaviors. Therefore, correctly diagnosing abuse isoften complex. Conclusive physical evidence of sexual abuse is relatively rare in suspected cases. For all of these reasons, when abuse is suspected, an appropriately trained health professional should be consulted.
The victims are usually Children and adolescents, regardless of their race, culture, or economic status, appear to be at approximately equal risk for sexual victimization. Statisticsshow that girls are sexually abused more often than boys are. However, boys' and, later, men's, tendency not to report their victimization may affect these statistics. Some men even feel societal pressure to be proud of early sexual activity (no matter how unwanted it may have been at the time). It is telling, however, to note that men who have been abused are more commonly seen in the criminaljustice system than in clinical mental health settings.
The majorities of sexual offenders are family members or are otherwise known to the child. Sexual abuse by strangers is not nearly as common as sexual abuse by family members. When abuse has occurred, a child can develop a variety of distressing fellings, thoughts and behaviors. No child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexualstimulation. Even a two or three years old, who cannot know the sexual activity its wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the over stimulation. The child of five or older who knows and cares for the abuser becomes trapped between affection and loyalty for the person, and the sense that the sexual activities are terribly wrong. If the child tries to break away fromthe sexual relationship, the abuse may threaten the child with violence or loss of love. When sexual abuse occurs within the family, the child may fear the anger, jealously or shame of other family members, or be afraid the family will break up if the secret it’s told. The offender may trick or force a child into keeping the sexual abuse a secret by using subtle tactics like; “Its OK every bodydoes this” or “If you tell anyone. I’ll just say you were lying.” Research further shows that men perpetrate most instances of sexual abuse, but there are cases in which women are the offenders. Despite a common myth, homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children
Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused can suffer a range of psychological and behavioral problems,...
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