Child Sexual Abuse: Addressing the Issue

Child sexual abuse entails the molestation of a minor, mainly by an adult, through improper advances and acts. It may occur in different forms, for instance, compelling a child to engage in sexual activities, indecent exposure of genitals to a minor to groom him/her, satisfying one’s desires, or the creation of pornographic videos using children. In most instances, child sexual abuse takes place through bodily contact although that is not the only approach. This serious problem needs to be addressed as it affects about 25% of girls and 7.5% of boys in the US (Müller, Röder, & Fingerle, 2014). Finding a suitable solution to the problem of child sexual abuse will result in its minimization or elimination hence making society a safe place for children and families.

Important Issue to Address

Child sexual abuse has been linked to an increased risk of mental health disorders later in life. Women who were sexually abused while children have a sevenfold likelihood of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, a ninefold chance of engaging in drug abuse, and are eightfold more probable of being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when compared to their non-abused counterparts. Such long-term effects are established not just in women but also in men as they influence the majority, if not all, victims of child sexual abuse (Crosson-Tower, 2014). Other common negative impacts encompass shame, eating disorders, re-victimization, sexual dysfunction, relationship problems, culpability, poor self-worth, depression, and other forms of dissociative disorders.

Child sexual abuse is among the most bedeviling and dumbfounding problems that families experience. Although it is hard to completely assess the scope of the issue, the extent of families experiencing the problem is staggering. Studies establish that about 10% of children experience sexual abuse each year with girls being more affected than boys (Müller et al., 2014). In most instances, relatives or a person they know well, for example, a family friend or a clergyman, sexually abuse children. Such an occurrence creates a painful and distressing secret that has rippling consequences upon the whole family.

An extensive treatment approach that employs components from child support and family systems offers the most successful intervention for child sexual abuse. Such a comprehensive program makes sure that the victim, the culprit, and all family members obtain the required treatment and encompasses the broader legal and criminal justice systems. Victims should be offered individualized counseling that could include components of play therapy for young children (Gonzalez, Wheeler, & Daire, 2017). For older children, it could encompass talk therapy using trauma-centered cognitive behavioral therapy. Group counseling for children in the same age group may be valuable since it teaches social skills and other practices that enable children to feel less secluded. Therapy for families whose children have experienced sexual abuse helps them heal from the problem and generates tools that prevent other such occurrences. There is a need for culprits to be taken through effective counseling against the vice over and above going through the criminal justice system, being convicted, and serving a jail term.

Conclusion

Child sexual abuse involves molestation of minors and may occur in different forms that include luring a child into sexual activities and indecent exposure of genitals. It has been associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders, shame, sexual dysfunction, and poor self-esteem to mention a few. A broad treatment approach that utilizes elements from child support and family systems presents the most effective intervention for child sexual abuse.

References

Crosson-Tower, C. (2014). Understanding child abuse and neglect (9th ed.). London, United Kingdom: Pearson.

Gonzalez, J. E., Wheeler, N. J., & Daire, A. P. (2017). Exploratory analyses of cognitive schemas for child and adolescent sexual abuse survivors: Implications for the research to practice gap. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 39(1), 25-38.

Müller, A. R., Röder, M., & Fingerle, M. (2014). Child sexual abuse prevention goes online: Introducing “cool and safe” and its effects. Computers & Education, 78, 60-65.