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Children at Risk

Sexual abuse in itself is naturally disturbing however; sexual abuse among children of both genders is more disturbing than the issue itself. Sorensen and Snow (1991) reported that between 1980 to 1990, cases of child sexual abuse reported a 322% increase. Finkelhor and Williams (1988) asserted that an average of 5. 5 children per 10,000 enrolled in day care has experienced being sexually abused and 8. 9 out of every 10,000 were abused in the home.

The article is all about the extrafamilial sexual abuse experiences of young adolescents with ages ranging from 10-14 years old. The article aims to know and describe the sexual abuse experience and associated risk behaviors associated with young adolescent boys and girls who were interviewed and examined at a hospital based child advocacy center (Edinburgh, Saewyc, Levith, 2006). Because of being sexually abused, adolescents may go through or experience different health related consequences.

These health consequences includes substance abuse, depression, self harm, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancies and further sexual and physical violence (De Bellis, 2001; Holmes And Slop, 1998; Saewyc, Magee and Pettingell, 2001 as cited in Edinburgh, Saewyc and Levit, 2006). Aside from these health consequences, there are also probabilities of mental health problems.

These mental health problems include posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, paranoia, dissociation, somatization, bulimia, anger and aggressive behavior and poor self- image (Holmes & Slap, 1998; Nagy, Adcock, & Nagy, 1994 as cited in Edinburgh, Saewyc, Levith, 2006). Aside from these problems, teens that were abused are most often to have poor school performances, a high tendency to run away from home and to always get in trouble.

This issue is one of the big problems of the society as well as the people in the medical field for they have to know how to properly approach and give more care and attention to the sexually abused adolescents than the those who were not abused. A population of 290 boys and girls with age ranging from 10-14 who were diagnosed with extrafamilial sexual abuse at a Midwestern hospital-based child advocacy center was where the data of this study came from. The data was from the adolescence that was abused between the year 1998 and 2003.

To gather data, health care assessments were done by health care practitioners that are expert in abuse assessments. These evaluations consisted of a solo interview with the patient, an interview with the parent or caretaker, a physical exam, a videoscopic genital exam, test for sexually transmitted disease, and appropriate collection of forensic evidence (Edinburgh, Saewyc, Levith, 2006). Results suggest that there were numerous differences in correlation between psychosocial and abuse experiences between boys and girls of this study.

It was evident that the number of perpetrator/s between boys and girls differ; for boys, the perpetrator would be most likely working alone while for girls, the number of abuse events increase and the number of perpetrators also are more. One example of this is gang rape wherein most of the victims are girls. Perpetrators that prefer boys usually are young and the victims are exposed more to pornography and more unusually sexual acts whereas perpetrators that prefer girls tend to be older and it was evident that alcohol and drugs are present during sexual assault.

Because society has put much weight on the social norms of masculinity, sexually assaulted boys tend to hinder self-reporting of sexual abuse, as they get older. It is also observable based on the gathered data that the patterns of disclosure differ between boys and girls. Girls tend to disclose their sexual abuse to their peers while boys tend to disclose their abuse to their mothers. When asked why, boys responded that there was no one to disclose the incident to and this may be used to explain why cases of reported sexual abuse among boys are lower.

It was found out that both genders seem to delay their reporting of the abuse incident thus causing forensic evidence to be unavailable. In court, the decisions for prosecution of the offender rely on the testimonies of expert witnesses and police interviews. Majority of cases were a result of disclosure among victims. A nurse’s duty is to first, be aware of the symptoms, evidences, behaviors, and traces of children, whether a boy or a girl, that has experienced sexual abuse.

Second, they should be properly trained and informed on how to handle and approach children with these kinds of cases. Children are not predictable. They have different reactions to different situations and if a nurse is not properly trained to handle such cases, he or she may bring more harm to the child or may cause the child to refuse disclosure. Third, they should be observant and alert in everything that they are doing.

Children sometimes elicit symptoms that are not readily recognizable especially if the abuse is reported later than the incident. By being observant and alert, a nurse may spot symptoms that may be mistaken as something irrelevant by others but in reality, the child may have experienced sexual abuse. Lastly, they should be knowledgeable of the different organizations or persons to whom they could forward the case to so that the child would be given the help and attention that he/she needs.

References

Edinburgh, L. , Saewyc, E. and Levitt, C. (2006). Gender differences in extra familial sexual abuse experiences among young teens. The Journal of School of Nursing, 22 (5), 278-284. Finkelhor and Williams (1988). Child Victims Retrieved on April 23, 2008, from http://www. prevent-abuse-now. com/stats. htm#Archives. Sorensen and Snow (1991). Child Sexual Abuse Disclosures Retrieved on April 23, 2008, from http://www. prevent-abuse-now. com/stats. htm#Archives.

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