Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a concept we, as a society, have a difficult time defining. There is a great deal of variation in the definitions of sexual abuse from agency to agency and state to state as well as in research and literature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2010) explains sexual abuse consists of but is not limited to touching, exposing children to sexual activity or content, and rape (p.1). This is only one of many definitions for sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can also consist of showing children sexual content, committing sexual acts in front of the child, photographing or videotaping children in an indecent manner, encouraging children to commit sexual acts, and/or failing to prevent children from being exposed to such things (Texas Family Code, 2013). According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP, 2011), children are sexually abused by both people they know (family, peers, care takers, etc.) and strangers (p. 1). Sexual abuse can happen in the home, store, classroom, bathroom, or practically anywhere (AACAP, 2011). Both male and female children of all ages can be victims of sexual abuse by both male and female offenders (Finkelhor, Hammer, and Sedlak, 2008). Finkelhor et al. (2008) explain that in the data collected by the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2), victims of sexual assault are overwhelmingly female and between the ages of 12 and 17 (p.2). Children can be damaged not just physically by this trauma but emotionally as well.
Johnson (2008) explains CSA affects not only thousands of children in this county but across the globe as well creating public health issue (p. S24). Just how extensive this problem is unknown as a great deal of sexual abuse is not reported (Johnson, 2008). Sometimes this abuse goes on for years before the child reports being abused (Johnson, 2008, p. S24). Children may not report abuse because they have been threaten or shamed by the perpetrator (AACAP, 2011, p. 1). Other times families choose not to report abuse to the authorities particularly when the abuser is a family member (Johnson, 2008, p. S24-25). Finkelhor et al. (2008) explain law enforcement receive reports on less than one third of CSA incidents (p. 2). When the abuser is a family member often sides must be chosen among extended family members cause additional problems and stress (AACAP, 2011, p. 1). There is often fear of what may happen if the authorities are involved (Johnson, 2008, p. S25). Parents sometimes fear their children may be taken away from them. There is also fear of the stigma of sexual abuse and the consequences that may follow (Johnson, 2008, p. S24).
Description of the Problem
According to the AACAP (2011), children are not equipped to handle the effects of CSA emotionally (p. 1). Neither the child’s age nor their cognitive ability will prevent problems resulting from the abuse (AACAP, 2011, p. 1). ...