How Prevalent is Child Sexual Abuse?
|The real prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known because so many victims do not disclose or report their abuse. Researchers have suggested rates varying from 1% to 35%. Most professionals in the field of abuse use rates from 8% to 20%.Even if the true prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known, most will agree that there will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18 if we do not prevent it.
Most people think of adult rape as a crime of great proportion and significance. Most are unaware that children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults.
What Are the Immediate Consequences for the Child Victim?
|If child sexual abuse left physical scars instead emotional ones, people would be horrified. Sexual abuse can negatively impact every part of a victim’s life. The real tragedy is that it robs children of their potential, setting into motion a chain of events and decisions that follow the victim throughout his or her life.It is important to note that victims suffer a wide range of reactions to sexual abuse, both in magnitude and form. Resilient children may not suffer serious consequences, whereas other children with the same experience may be highly traumatized.
Emotional and mental health problems are often the first consequence and sign of child sexual abuse. However, it should be noted that some victims do not display emotional problems or any other immediate symptom in response to the abuse.
Sexual behavior problems and over-sexualized behavior are a very common consequence of child sexual abuse. These are signs of abuse that are not always included on “what to look for” lists, probably because many find it unpleasant to think about. However, age-inappropriate behavior can be a very important and telling sign that abuse is or has occurred.
Academic problems in childhood are common in children who are sexually abused. Victims perform at lower levels than their non-abused counterparts.
Substance abuse problems beginning in childhood or adolescence are one of the most common consequences of child sexual abuse.
Delinquency and crime, often resulting from substance abuse, is more prevalent in adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse.
The risk of teen pregnancy is much higher for girls with a history of child sexual abuse. This is likely due to over-sexualized behavior, a common consequence of child sexual abuse.
What are the Long Term Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse?
|The consequences of child sexual abuse often follow victims into adulthood. Most people have no idea that the effects of child sexual abuse are so pervasive in adult life. Although survivors of child sexual abuse are negatively impacted as a whole, it is important to realize that many individual survivors do not suffer these consequences. Child sexual abuse does not necessarily sentence a victim to an impaired life.Substance abuse problems are a common consequence for adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
Mental health problems are a common long-term consequence of child sexual abuse.
Obesity and eating disorders are more common in women who have a history of child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is also associated with physical health problems in adulthood. It is theorized that this is a consequence of the substance abuse, mental health issues and other risks that survivors of child sexual abuse face.
Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to become involved in crime, both as a perpetrator and as a victim. This is likely a product of a higher risk for substance abuse problems and associated lifestyle factors.
Although difficult to quantify, logic tells us that the consequences of child sexual abuse (substance abuse issues, mental health problems, becoming a parent as a teen and poor physical health) result in loss of earning potential over a lifetime.
What are the Long Term Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse for Society?
|Few have ever given thought to the tremendous impact child sexual abuse has on the economy and social fabric of our society. Child sexual abuse is at the root of many societal problems. If we examine each of the common individual consequences of child sexual abuse in light of the prevalence rate, we can see how child sexual abuse has ramifications for each and every one of us.Child sexual abuse plays an important role in the cost of mental health services.
Teen pregnancy is a long-term, expensive societal problem. Child sexual abuse is a major factor in teenage pregnancy rates.
Over-sexualized behavior, common for child sexual abuse victims, can lead to an increased risk of sexually-transmitted diseases.
A huge body of research clearly demonstrates that individuals with a history of child sexual abuse are significantly more likely to have both minor and major health problems. The expense of these medical conditions is a burden to the survivor, the healthcare system and the taxpayer. Healthcare expense is one of the most critical issues facing Americans today. With 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S., there can be do no doubt that child sexual abuse plays a significant role in our healthcare crisis.
Although there is little research on the relationship between child sexual abuse and poverty, there is a body of information on the relationships between teen pregnancy, substance abuse and mental health issues to poverty. Logic tells us that child sexual abuse plays a significant role in the high rate of poverty in the U.S.