Research: Profiling the Child Victim

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Children involved in intergenerational sexual relationships do not show a set pattern of reactions. In addition to this, certain types of reactions have been correlated with social factors.

  • Constantine, L.L., (1981). "The effects of early sexual experiences: A review and synthesis of research," in Constantine, L.L. & Martinson, F.M. (eds.), Children and Sex: New Findings, New Perspectives.
    MHAMIC: "The author concludes that there is no set of reactions that is a single inevitable outcome of adult-child sexual interaction. More negative outcomes are associated with violence or coercion, tense situations, sex-negative attitudes, sexual ignorance, and unsupportive or judgmental adult reactions. The amount of anxiety and guilt that the child experiences depends on two main characteristics of the interaction. These factors are of overwhelming importance in immediate and long-term effects."
  • Finkelhor, David (1990). "Early and long-term effects of child sexual abuse: An update," Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 21(5), pp. 325-330.
    "Another attempt to consider the impact of sexual abuse has been the formulation of a specific sexually-abused-child disorder (Corwin, 1988). This effort has evolved in response to the need many clinicians perceive to have a diagnostic category in which to place sexually abused children. However, this approach has not caught on because it has proved so difficult to define a set of symptoms that clearly delineates sexually abused children. As we have pointed out, some victims appear to be asymptomatic in the immediate wake of abuse. Perhaps more important, victims manifest such a large variety of symptoms that there is no single set of symptoms that can be considered characteristic. The sexualized behavior that many clinicians think is so much the hallmark of the child who has been sexually abused occurs in only 7% of all victims according to the evaluations of 369 children by Conte and Schuerman (1987). The attempts to define a single sexually abused child syndrome are unlikely to meet with future success and acceptance."
  • Kendall-Tacket, K. A., Williams, L. M., & Finkelhor, D. (1993). "Impact of Sexual Abuse on Children: A Review and Synthesis of Recent Empirical Studies," Psychological Bulletin, 113(1), 164-180.
    "The findings suggest the absence of any specific syndrome in children who have been sexually abused and no single traumatizing process. [...] The range of symptoms, the lack of a single predominant symptom pattern, and the absence of symptoms in so many victims clearly suggest that diagnosis is complex. Because the effects of abuse can manifest themselves in too many ways, symptoms cannot be easily used, without other evidence, to confirm the presence of sexual abuse. Yet the absence of symptoms certainly cannot be used to rule out sexual abuse. There are too many sexually abused children who are apparently asymptomatic."