Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

By Edward L. Rowan | Go to book overview

7.
The Search for Answers

Women who have been sexually abused as children are more likely to breast-feed their own children than are women who were not abused. Pedophiles are more likely to report head trauma before age thirteen than are all people in the general population. What is the significance, if any, of these observations? One man who fantasizes exclusively about preadolescent boys has no contact with them but writes a story about a boy who never grows up. Another volunteers to be a Little League coach in order to be in a position to maneuver boys to his home. How are they different? One child who has sexual contact with an adult is psychologically devastated, another shrugs it off, and a third thinks it was a wonderful experience. How can there be such a wide range of reactions? Research interest in the aftereffects of adult-child sex has increased dramatically in recent years, but questions remain in every aspect of this problem area.

The scope of the problem is the first concern. Standardization of the definition of child sexual abuse would be a good first step. Age, age differential, type of contact, and perceived harm are all important variables. Studies of people in therapy or in prison have selection bias and are not representative of the population as a whole. When the general population is surveyed, the methodology is not standardized. Critical data on racial and ethnic groups with regard to incidence and personal and community aftereffects are woefully inadequate. This is true for the United States and for other countries as well. Are there particular demographic or personal or community dynamics associated with seemingly high-risk groups

-77-

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Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • 1: Who Becomes an Abuser? 3
  • 2: Who is at Risk? 19
  • 3: What Are the Effects of Abuse? 29
  • 4: Treating the Survivor 43
  • 5: Treating the Abuser 57
  • 6: Prevention 67
  • 7: The Search for Answers 77
  • Appendix A - State Sex Offender Registry Sites 85
  • Appendix B - Publications 90
  • Appendix C - The Internet 92
  • Index 101
  • Understanding Health and Sickness Series 103
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