Sexual Abuse in Childhood and Adolescence
Reason for Choosing Topic
When this assignment was given at the beginning of the quarter, I had no idea what I was going to write about. The realm of family violence and child abuse is so broad that I had to take a step back and look at the various topics and ways I could take this paper. I eventually chose sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence because I have never been able to grasp why the perpetrators think what they are doing is right, and if they realize what they are doing is wrong why they do not stop their actions.
My practicum site is at Inland Valley Recovery Services and a good portion of my clients thus far have been sexually abused. This abuse affects their self-esteem and self-efficacy, which then led to their eventual addiction to and dependency on substances. Although I know a lot of textbook ideas on sexual abuse and what is expected of those who have been sexually abused, I still wanted to write about such a topic to learn more and to solidify the assumptions I have already learned and grown accustomed to holding as truth.
Definition of Child Sexual Abuse
When defining child or adolescent sexual abuse, the definition can be as broad as unwelcomed sexual contact with a minor or as specific as narrowing down which acts are considered abuse. San Bernardino and Riverside Counties define child sexual abuse as follows.
Sexual abuse includes penetration or external touching of a child's intimate parts, oral sex with a child, indecent exposure or any other sexual act performed in a child's presence for sexual gratification, sexual use of a child for prostitution, and the manufacturing of child pornography. Child sexual abuse is also the willful failure of the parent or the child's caretaker to make a reasonable effort to stop child sexual abuse by another person. (Castillo, 2014)
This definition, although disturbingly specific, helps prevent any inappropriate behaviors with a minor child from slipping through the cracks. Although this behavior is punishable by law and is deemed inappropriate by many people, it still does not cease to occur on a daily basis.
One of the most important pieces to defining child sexual abuse is that of the “exertion of power/control over the child victim” (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2011, p. 197). Many perpetrators argue the child(ren) he or she sexually abused agreed to perform the inappropriate acts with them, so the perpetrator cannot be held liable for the abuse. Children are not deemed capable of fully understanding what they are “consenting to” or “what the consequences of their consent might be.” Also even if the child(ren) involved in such sexual acts know what they are doing is wrong, they “might not be in a position to decline involvement because of the adult’s authority status” (Barnett et al., 2011, p. 197).
Prevalence and Disclosure
Many children and adolescents who are victims of sexual abuse do not disclose...