Distinguishing sexually abused children from nonabused children on the basis of sexual behavior
This study was designed to examine the family background characteristics, life events, and sexual behaviors, as reported by parents, of 55 three-through-six-year-old, children. A comparison was made between 23 sexually abused children and 32 nonabused children who were either themselves involved in psychotherapy, or who had a family member involved in therapy/counseling, for reasons other than abuse. Information regarding family background characteristics and life events were collected along with the Child Sexual Behavior Inventory on a self-report questionnaire entitled, Children's Behavior Survey. Previous research suggested that the families of sexually abused children could be distinguished from the families of nonsexually abused children on the basis of having experienced significantly more stress-related variables. It has been found that sexually abused children display a higher frequency of sexualized behavior than nonabused children. Of 13 stress-related background characteristics and life events considered, only one variable was found to distinguish sexually abused from nonabused children. Parental divorce was significantly more prevalent in the families of sexually abused children. Sexually abused children were found to demonstrate a significantly higher frequency of sexual behaviors than nonabused children. However, the obtained differences were due to a higher frequency of sexual behaviors exhibited by sexually abused girls. Eight behaviors, observed significantly more often in sexually abused children, were associated with sexual abuse. Other sexual behaviors, observed frequently in a small percentage of sexually abuse children, but not in nonabused children, were identified. It was concluded that the demonstration of overt sexual behaviors in nonsexually abused children is uncommon. When a three-through-six-year-old child presents with frequent, overt sexual behaviors, further investigation into the possibility of sexual abuse is warranted. Implications for future research were cited.
Debra M Johansen,
"Distinguishing sexually abused children from nonabused children on the basis of sexual behavior"
(January 1, 1990).
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