Saturday, June 19, 2010

Child sexual abuse needs a public health approach

Imagine a childhood disease that affects one in five girls and one in seven
boys before they reach 18 (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994): a disease
that can cause dramatic mood swings, erratic behavior, and even severe
conduct disorders among those exposed; a disease that breeds distrust of
adults and undermines the possibility of experiencing normal sexual
relationships; a disease that can have profound implications for an
individual's future health by increasing the risk of problems such as
substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal behavior
(Crowell & Burgess, 1996); a disease that replicates itself by causing some
of its victims to expose future generations to its debilitating effects.

Imagine what we, as a society, would do if such a disease existed. We would
spare no expense. We would invest heavily in basic and applied research. We
would devise systems to identify those affected and provide services to
treat them. We would develop and broadly implement prevention campaigns to
protect our children. Wouldn't we?

Such a disease does exist—it’s called child sexual abuse. Our response,
however, has been far from the full-court press reserved for traditional
diseases or health concerns of equal or even lesser magnitude. Perhaps the
perception of sexual abuse as a law enforcement problem or our discomfort in
confronting sexual issues contributes to our complacency. Whatever the
reason, we have severely underestimated the effects of this problem on our
children's health and quality of life.

Excerpted from a commentary by Dr. James Mercy’s, a researcher with the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Mercy, J. A. (1999). Having New
Eyes: Viewing Child Sexual Abuse as a Public Health Problem. *Sexual Abuse:
A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11*(4), 317-321.


pm said...

The Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation is a newly formed nonprofit with a mission to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are actively seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post a childhood photo and caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website By uniting survivors from across the globe we can help provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out. We also have a prepared a youtube video that can be viewed at Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted. Please visit our site for more details on how you can send us your submissions.

Thank you for everything you do!

Gretchen Paules
Administrative Director
Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation
111 Presidential Blvd., Suite 212
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

常映 said...

Pen and ink is wits plough.................................................................

Poonkuzhali said...

The mental trauma after sexual abuse is equvalent to a bye-pass surgery...say for example.... and a small child who was unprotected by her mother or guardian has to face the trauma alone and heal herself on her own with guit and shame and low self esteem and is expected by this society to be normal for the rest of the life? what a paradox?! why talk about the victims, when it has to be prevented in the first place? what are we waiting for? what are we going to do to stop a criminal? how are we going to alert the victim's well wisher/care taker that their child is watched by filthy eyes? the awareness in the society is far lessss...than required. How are we going to threaten the offenders? not only law, even an initimidation will stop them. AWARENESS is the need of the hour. Awareness from the child side, from her parent's side and from the ofenders side. this is a tripartite agreement this society has to learn to adopt.