The Complexity of Investigating Possible Sexual Abuse of a Child

Sexual abuse of children is a serious matter and it is intended in what follows to provide information that may be of value to professionals in various situations. I am often asked to appear in courtrooms to provide evidence for or against whether child sex abuse has occurred.
We will consider the following three aspects;

    1. Some of the potential signs of behaviour of children that possibly have been sexually abused, but could also constitute normal non abuse behaviour.
    2. The evaluation of children who may have been sexually abused. To carry this out there is a need for skill, and unbiased, independent thinking.
    3. The possible long term effects of a child who has been sexually abused.


The most commons symptoms have already been delineated in part 1. They include early sexualised behaviour. In addition young children frequently become anxious and suffer from nightmares, bedwetting and sometimes PTSD. Some children become aggressive or withdrawn or regress to a more infantile level (Kendall-Tackett et al., 1993).


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