Sexual Trauma in Pediatric Populations

unrecognizable sad girl behind glass

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. However, experts agree that the incidence of child sexual abuse may be greater than what is reported to authorities. Children who have experienced sexual abuse may display emotional or behavioral reactions, including an increase in nightmares/other sleeping difficulties, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, depression, not wanting to be left along with a particular individual(s), or sexual knowledge/language/behaviors that are inappropriate for the child’s age.  

Child sexual abuse can have profound and long-lasting impacts on both physical and mental health, including increased risk of developing PTSD, depression, substance abuse, relationship difficulties, among other problems. Early detection of child sexual abuse is essential to promoting children’s long-term health and pediatric and primary care providers are ideally situated to do so. Effective evidence-based treatments include forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy. NC-PAL can help with resource and referral coordination. Resources below for more information about child sexual abuse prevalence, effects, and methods of evaluation and intervention.  


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