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Child Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Each year, thousands of boys and girls are sexually abused. The effects of this abuse can last a lifetime. The American Academy of Pediatrics (1991) defines sexual abuse as "engaging of a child in sexual activities that the child cannot comprehend, for which the child is developmentally unprepared and cannot give informed consent, and/or that violate the social and legal taboos of society" (p. 254).

Sexual abuse accounts for 12 percent of the one million substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect annually (Reece 2000). Approximately 20 percent of adult women, and 5 to 10 percent of men have been sexually abused as children. The peak age of vulnerability to sexual abuse is between seven and thirteen years of age, but children older or much younger have been abused (Finkelhor 1994). Girls are approximately three times more likely to be sexually abused than boys (Sedlak and Broadhurst 1996). The overwhelming majority of victims know their abusers. Girls are more likely to be abused by family members, and boys by friends of the family (Kendall-Tackett and Simon 1992).

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodChild Abuse - Physical Abuse And Neglect, Psychological Maltreatment, Sexual Abuse