Child Sexual Abuse and Adolescent and Adult Adjustment: A Review of British and World Evidence, with Implications for Social Work, and Mental Health and School Counselling

Alice Sawyerr, Christopher Bagley

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We offer a narrative review of the findings of available British research on
the sexual abuse of children, and its behavioural and mental health sequels
in adolescent and adult adjustment, and link this to the growing world literature
on child abuse, which frequently occurs within family settings. The evidence shows that around 9% of women, and about 3% of men have experienced
prolonged, bodily intrusive abuse by the age of 16 or 18. This has many adverse sequels including impaired self-esteem, clinical levels of depression
and anxiety, self-harm and substance abuse, somatic disorders, and many forms of maladaptation. Poly-victimisation combining physical, sexual
and emotional abuse has particularly negative impacts. The long-term
burden in human suffering and public health costs is high. In school, abuse
victims are often bullied and isolated in school, which exacerbates (or even
triggers) the negative effects of abuse. Teachers and school counsellors and
social workers have an important role to play in identifying abuse victims,
and offering help in ways which prevents the development of serious mental
health problems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number73259
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalOpen Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2017

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