Child Sexual Abuse in Our Society This Is for a Psychology Class Term Paper

Child Sexual Abuse in Our Society This Is for a Psychology Class Term Paper

rational (the importance of the study) and research question 2) method -participants (ethnic race, gender, age), measures (tests used and evaluation), procedures 3) references. 15 sources are used. APA.

Child sexual abuse, CSA, is said to occur when children experience sexual contact with an adult or an older child through coercion or deceptive manipulation at an age and stage of development at which the child does not posses sufficient maturity to understand the nature of the acts and therefore is not able to provide informed consent. Physical force is often not necessary due to the fact that the perpetrator is likely someone with whom the child has a trusting relationship and who is in a position of authority over the child (Arcus 1998). “The type of sexual contact may involve intercourse, touching or fondling the genitals or secondary sex organs with hands, mouth, or objects, or being forced to perform sexual acts with another person” (Arcus 1998). A child may be coerced into disrobing and exposing themselves, or watching adults disrobe or engage in sexual activity, thus contact may not involve actually touching the child. Children can also be involved in ritualistic sexual abuse as part of cults or other belief practices (Arcus 1998). Child sexual abuse is not a new social problem, however, today more attempts to address the problem (Collingridge 1997).

Literature Review

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kenneth Lanning in a 1992 booklet issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that “Society’s attitude about child sexual abuse and exploitation can be summed up in one word: denial. Most people do not want to hear about it and would prefer to pretend that child sexual victimization just does not occur”(Wetzstein 1996). “The subject of sexual abuse is taboo in all cultures, and people are afraid to deal with it. Traumatic events such as sexual abuse in childhood are likely to be under-reported, both because they are too painful to remember or too shameful or painful to disclose to an interviewer” (Delgado 1996).

Whether a sex offender will commit another crime depends on the nature of his sexual appetite. According to international research findings including a 1994 paper issued by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy that appeared in the January 1996 Congressional Quarterly, recidivism rates for untreated sex offenders ranged as follows: 41-71% for exhibitionists, 13-40% for child molesters preferring boy victims, 10-29% for child molesters preferring girl victims, 7-35% for rapists, and 4-10% for incest offenders (Wetzstein 1996). Lanning cites a landmark, long-term study of 561 sex offenders by Dr. Gene Abel, an Atlanta sexual disorder expert stating that pedophiles who targeted boy outside the home committed the greatest number of crimes, an average of 281.7 acts with an average of 150.2 partners. “Molesters who targeted girls within the family committed an average of 81.3 acts with an average of 1.8 partners” (Wetzstein 1996). Abel’s study also reported that nearly a quarter of the 561 subjects committed crimes against both family and non-family members.

The Family Crisis Program for Sexually Abused children at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston reported their research findings concerning the characteristic of sexually abused children, their families, and social environment; the nature of the sexual acts the children experienced and the events that transpired following the disclosure of the abuse; and the effects of the total experience upon the child and family (Schwartz 1990). During a two-year period 314 children were referred to FCP for services, and 156 were judged appropriate and comprised the research sample. The researchers used a variety of measures, many standardized with norms and test validation data and did an 18-month follow-up. Of the total sample, only 27% showed clinically significant psychopathology, varying according to the age of the child with 17% of the preschool children, 40% of the 7 to 13-year-olds, and 8% of the adolescents designated as seriously disturbed. The effects ranged from the complete absence of symptoms to pervasive and serious problems (Schwartz 1990). Some studies have shown that abuse that takes place during adolescence is the most damaging, while other reports indicate that prepubescent abuse is more damaging than abuse in early childhood or adolescence. Studies show that girls are more likely than boys to be abused by a parent, however, boys are more likely to be abused by a non-family member or stranger and a higher incidence of force used.

For example, studies have shown that girls are more likely than boys to be abused by a parent, whereas boys are more likely to be abused by a non-family member or a stranger, and that there is a higher incidence of force with boys (Age pg).

One study conducted showed that among never-abused adolescents, 76% reported having had no sexual partners during the past year, compared to 47% of the prior-abuse group and 33% of those currently abused. Previously abused respondents were about three times as likely as never-abused teenagers to report having had three or more partners during the past year, and currently abused adolescents were seven times as likely as the never-abused to report that many partners over the past year (Luster 1997).

A research team in 1999 identified parental drinking as a risk factor for CSA, citing that most victims were abused by either another family member or by a stranger suggesting that parental alcohol abuse may leave children more vulnerable to sexual abuse by others (Widom 2001). “Frequently reported consequences include acting-out behaviors, such as running away, truancy, conduct disorder, delinquency, promiscuity, and inappropriate sexual behavior. Studies of prostitutes have also revealed an association between sexual abuse during childhood and deviant and criminal behavior” (Spatz Widom 1993). Moreover studies have found that sexual abuse was strongly associated with adolescent pregnancy, primarily through the strong association between sexual abuse and high-risk sexual behavior (Stock 1997).

Sexual misconduct against students is the main reasons teachers lose their license. “Offences include sexual comments, kissing, intercourse and using students to make child pornography. Abuse of elementary school children by male teachers and incidents involving female teachers get most of the media attention, but 65 per cent of all sexual misconduct cases at the college involve male teachers and teenage girls”(Gillespie 2001) Interestingly, teachers who abuse are often among the most popular and well-respected in the school.

According to one study 26% of the women had had a teenage pregnancy, 35% had been sexually abused and 48% had been sexually precocious (Witwer 1997). Moreover, “women who have been sexually abused are more likely to smoke, to be unemployed and to be separated or divorced, all of which can affect their over-all health. The pattern of sexual behaviour characterized by younger age at first sexual intercourse and multiple partners puts sexually abused women at risk for STDs and perhaps even cervical cancer” (Strong 1998).

Many researchers have reported depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, and low self-esteem among adults who were sexually abused in childhood (Victims 1993). The results of one study “concluded that a history of child sexual abuse was significant in the genesis of mental health problems and group work was one positive way of responding to this. The use of life story telling as a way of gaining understanding and knowledge about the experience of sexual abuse and its consequences was advocated for researchers and mental health workers” (Scott 1996).

Purpose of Study

The purpose of the following study is to discover if females who are sexual abused before puberty are more likely to become sexually promiscuous when they begin the pubescent stage compared to females who were not sexually abused before puberty.


The participants of the study are females ranging from thirteen years of age to eighteen years of age. Anonymous surveys were conducted with 500 females consisting of 30% African-American, 20% Hispanic, 20% Asian, and 30% Caucasian. The surveys were distributed to local schools, family homes, and from Department of Human Services files. Surveys that had been marked more than once for an answer were excluded, as were surveys that were not completed in full. This insured the test results were pure and accurate.

The results of the study should show whether females who have been sexual abused in childhood are more sexually active during their teenage years than teenage females who were not sexually abused in childhood.

Works Cited

Age and Gender Differences Among Sexual Abuse Victims.”

Arcus, Doreen, Ph.D. “Child Abuse, Sexual and Emotional.”

Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence. 1998.

Collingridge, Mike. “Child Sexual Abuse Protocols – An Evaluation.” January 24, 1997.

Delgado, Gisella; Lopez, German; Sebastiani, Angela; Stewart, Lindsay. “Consequences of Sexual Abuse of Adolescents.” Reproductive Health Matters. May 01, 1996; pp 129-134.;Lib=0~0=0=Delgado%2C+Gisella%7CLopez%2C+German%7CSebastiani%2C+Angela%7CStewart%2C+Lindsay=Consequences+of+Sexual+Abuse+of+Adolescents++=05%2D01%2D1996=sexual+AND+abuse=30=6.(accessed08-12-2002).

Gillespie, Kerry. “Hidden and unreported: Sexual abuse of students School Predators.”

The Toronto Star. June 03, 2001.;Lib=0~0=0=Kerry+Gillespie=Hidden+and+unreported%3A+Sexual+abuse+of+students+School+Predators++=06%2D03%2D2001=sexual+AND+abuse=30=13.(accessed08-12-2002).

Luster, Tom; Small, Stephen. “A Sexual Abuse History and Number of Sex Partners

Among Female Adolescents: Part 2 of 2.” Family Planning Perspectives. Vol. 29. September 01, 1997; pp 207-211.;Lib=0~0=0=Luster%2C+Tom%7CSmall%2C+Stephen+A=Sexual+Abuse+History+and+Number+of+Sex+Partners+Among+Female+Adolescents++%5BPart++2+of+2%5D++=09%2D01%2D1997=sexual+AND+abuse=30=0.(accessed08-12-2002).

Scott, Caroline M. “An…


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