Developmental trends in symptomatology and the evaluation of sexually abused children
AdvisorSabers, Darrell L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractResearch on the psychological impact of childhood sexual abuse has received a great deal of attention over the last decade. Existing literature documents in detail no specific syndrome among child sexual abuse victims. Rather, children exhibit a myriad of responses including immediate and long-term effects. Some children display no symptoms as a result of sexual abuse, while others demonstrate symptoms along developmental trends. This study investigated the database from one community's sexual abuse evaluation clinic. Specifically, this study was designed to compare the data with national data in terms of child and perpetrator characteristics in order to develop further understanding of developmental trends in symptomatology and abuse impact. Developmental trends in symptomatology were examined by comparing rates of reported symptoms (behavioral and somatic symptoms) among three defined age groups: young children (0- to 5-year-olds), middle-childhood (ages 6 to 11), and adolescents (ages 12 and older). Characteristics of the abuse experience in terms of the outcome of the physical examination were also evaluated. Due to the exploratory nature of this investigation, an overall evaluation of the database in terms of improvement in data collection was included. Although substantial proportions of data were unknown at the time of assessment, the results suggest the presence of developmental trends among symptomatology. The results provide little evidence regarding the characteristics of the abuse experience and their relationships to the outcome of the physical examination. The findings are summarized and discussed; and implications for future practice and research with the research instrument are examined.
Degree ProgramGraduate College