Child sexual abuse (CSA) has received increasing recognition as an important social issue over the past couple of decades (Webster, 2001). While reports of CSA are certainly increasing, it is unclear as to whether this is due to an actual increase in occurrence, or merely a greater awareness in the community and reporting to the authorities.

The uncertainty surrounding reporting is not unique in this field, with conflicting and controversial results being found in many areas of the CSA literature. Much of the confusion stems from the lack of a solid definition, which has sabotaged attempts to readily identify, report, treat and predict cases of CSA.

This essay attempts to address the impact of CSA. To do so, it seems pertinent to first tackle the issues of definition and prevalence, before moving on to look at the reported effects of CSA. Regardless of the mixed findings in the research, there is a general consensus in the field that CSA is an intense and highly destructive phenomenon which negatively affects many of its victims and their families (Esman, 1994; McMillan, Zuravin, & Rideout, 1995).

Note: Vikki Rowe is a graduate of AIPC’s Diploma of Professional Counselling and currently studying a Masters of Clinical Psychology course at the Australian Catholic University.

Follow-Up Posts:

  1. Definition
  2. Incidence
  3. Effects
  4. Gender Issues
  5. Long-Term Effects
  6. Conclusion & References

Related Series: Working with Children at Risk, Communicating with Children, My Child Being Bullied