Childhood Sexual Abuse Essay

1314 words - 5 pages

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 her development will be affected by at least four factors; self-image or how the child feels about himself or herself; how the child sees himself or herself in relation to other people; how the child perceives his or her own needs and desires; and how the child sees and reacts to his or her own sexual feelings (Kinnear, 1995). A child's self-esteem develops greatly on the abuse experience. Many children will believe that they are dirty or bad and end up with low self-esteem. A sexually abused child may also lose trust in adults and other people in authority. They may repress their own needs and wants believing that they are not deserving. The effects of sexual abuse on children may be long-lasting and devastating to these children even as they become adults (Faller, 1998). Children will often keep silent with regard to their abuse and may not tell anyone.Other children may wait until they are older and feel safe to "come out" with the truth. Many children may want to protect the abuser because he or she may be a family member. In these cases, the child may wait until the death of their abuser to tell of their suffering.In sexual abuse cases, there are three distinct...

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