Childhood Sexual Abuse Left Untreated Can Contribute To
Juvenile Delinquency and Psychological Disorders.
Every year thousands of children are abused. This abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature. All forms of abuse are wrong, all forms of abuse are harmful, but childhood sexual abuse can cause major emotional and physical harm in our adolescents. Before we can properly treat these victims we must first have a solid grasp of how and why sexual abuse occurs, the typical effects of the abuse and how the abuse changes the child's stages of development.
In recent years a great deal of interest has been placed on delinquent behavior and the causes that contribute to it. Media blames music, movies, games, and videos, but they do not dig deep enough to find the true causes of this dilemma. As I mentioned earlier physical, emotional, and sexual abuse play a crucial role to the developing child, but when a child is abused sexually they are robbed of their childhood and the abuse if left untreated can lead them astray. According to Erik Erikson (1902 1994) a person's development is organized into eight stages. He categorizes these stages as The Oral 2
Sensory Stage (birth to 18 months), Early Childhood (18 months to 3 years), Play Age (3 to 5 years), School Age (6 to 12 years), Adolescence ( 12 to 18 years), Young Adulthood (18 to 35), Middle Adulthood (35 to 55 or 65), and Late Adulthood (55 or 65 to death). Even though all stages of development are important, for the purpose of this paper I will concentrate on the first four, which directly affect the fifth stage, which is adolescence. Depending on what age the child is when the onset of abuse occurs determines which stage of development is effected, and what stage(s) are retarded. During the first stage (birth to 18 months) the basic development of trust and mistrust are established. Even if the child passes through this stage successfully a child can regress because of the abuse. During the second stage (18 months to 3 years) a child learns how to build self-esteem, which is essential to growth. By the third stage (3-5 years) the child creativity develops and imaginative play is displayed. A majority of abuse cases occur during this stage or the fourth stage (6-12 years) the stage of learning and socialization. Once the child reaches the adolescence stage the on set of delinquency depends on what was done to them during those earlier stages of development. There are many outcomes for children that were sexually abused; they can develop a poor sense of self, become unable to show emotion, lose the ability to show love and trust, display intense anger or rage, act out sexually, become suicidal, depressed, or begin to abuse drugs or alcohol. These symptoms can emerge at any time and these reactions vary victim to victim. They can manifest in post-traumatic stress, disruption of normal psychological development, painful emotions, and cognitive distortions. Some CSA suffer greatly, while others do not the reason for this anomaly is due to how the child interprets the act. It is extremely 3
difficult to know the exact number of victims because of the failure to disclose the abuse. Statistics show 67% of sexual abuse victims are juveniles under the age of 18, 34% are under the age of 12, and 1 out of 7 were under the age of 6. Bureau Of Justice Statistics, Retrieved May 18, 2004 from www.prevent-abuse-now.com/stats.html this can be a major factor in the surge of delinquent behavior. When we look at reports of child sexual abuse you will see that girls are more prone to disclose their abuse where as boys tend not to disclose theirs, the behavior is just as different in males than in females. Males tend to show external symptoms such as acting out violently. When the abuse is left undisclosed and untreated society must then deal with problems resulting in increased crime, suicide, drugs, and more sexual abuse. Dr. W. Holms (1998). On the other hand girls...
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