The many kinds of sexual abuse of young children

SOURCE: Sexual abuse of young children in southern Africa
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
TITLE AUTHOR(S): L.Richter, C.Higson-Smith
SOURCE EDITOR(S): L.Richter, A.Dawes, C.Higson-Smith
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 2661
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/7967

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One of the reasons why we understand relatively little about the sexual abuse of pre-pubertal children is that we think and speak about child sexual abuse as if it were one thing; as if all episodes of sexual abuse of a young child followed the same pattern, were prompted by the same motivations, and led to the same consequences. Rather, there are several distinct kinds of sexual abuse perpetrated against pre-pubertal children. Child sexual abuse varies by feature of event, the experience of the child, the duration of the abuse, the age of the child, the circumstances under which the abuse takes place, and the effects of the abuse on the child and the family. This more precisely specify knowledge about child sexual abuse resides in police files, in the notes of service organisations, in whispered disclosures between friends and family, and in the memories of children and perpetrators. Little of this knowledge has made its way into formal scholarly discourse, and little of this knowledge currently informal theory or recommended practice in South Africa.