Childhood Sexual Abuse: An Evidence Based Perspective


David M. Fergusson & Paul E. Mullen

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  • Developmental Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry Series, Volume 40

    Series Editor: Alan E. Kazdin, Yale University

    Recent volumes in this series …

    • CHILD ABUSE, 2nd. Ed. by David A. Wolfe
    • TEMPERAMENT AND CHILD PSYCHOPATHOLOGY by William T. Garrison and Felton J. Earls
    • AUTISM by Laura Schreibman
    • DELINQUENCY IN ADOLESCENCE by Scott W. Henggeler
    • ANXIETY DISORDERS IN CHILDREN by Rachel G. Klein and Cynthia G. Last
    • CHILDREN OF BATTERED WOMEN by Peter G. Jaffe, David A. Wolfe, and Susan Kaye Wilson
    • SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS by Steven P. Schinke, Gilbert J. Botvin, and Mario A. Orlandi
    • CHILD PSYCHIATRIC EPIDEMIOLOGY by Frank C. Verhulst and Hans M. Koot
    • ADOLESCENT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND CHILDBEARING by Laurie Schwab Zabin and Sarah C. Hayward
    • BEHAVIOR AND DEVELOPMENT IN FRAGILE X SYNDROME by Elisabeth M. Dykens, Robert M. Hodapp, and James F. Leckman
    • LEARNING DISABILITIES by Byron P. Rourke and Jerel E. Del Dotto
    • PEDIATRIC TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY by Jeffrey H. Snow and Stephen R. Hooper
    • ADOLESCENTS AND THE MEDIA by Victor C. Strasburger
    • CHILDREN'S ADJUSTMENT TO ADOPTION by David M. Brodzinsky, Daniel W. Smith, and Anne B. Brodzinsky
    • MOTOR COORDINATION DISORDERS IN CHILDREN by David A. Sugden and Helen Wright
    • CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE by David M. Fergusson and Paul E. Mullen
    • PSYCHOTIC DISORDERS IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS by Robert L. Findling, S. Charles Schulz, Javad H. Kashani, and Elena Harlan


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    Series Editor's Introduction

    Interest in child development and adjustment is by no means new. Yet, only recently has the study of children benefited from advances in both clinical and scientific research. Advances in the social and biological sciences, the emergence of disciplines and subdisciplines that focus exclusively on childhood and adolescence, and a greater appreciation of the impact of such influences as the family, peers, and school have helped accelerate research on developmental psychopathology. Apart from interest in the study of child development and adjustment for its own sake, the need to address clinical problems that occur in adulthood naturally draws one to investigate precursors in childhood and adolescence.

    Within a relatively brief period, the study of psychopathology among children and adolescents has proliferated considerably. Several different professional journals, annual book series, and handbooks devoted entirely to the study of children, adolescents, and their adjustment document the proliferation of work in the field. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of resource material that presents information in an authoritative, systematic, and disseminable fashion. There is a need within the field to convey the latest developments and to represent different disciplines, approaches, and conceptual views to the topics of childhood and adolescent adjustment and maladjustment.

    The Sage Series Developmental Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry is designed to serve uniquely several needs of the field. The Series encompasses individual monographs prepared by experts in the fields of clinical child psychology, child psychiatry, child development, and related disciplines. The primary focus is on developmental psychopathology, which refers broadly here to the diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and prevention of problems that arise in the period from infancy through adolescence. A working assumption of the Series is that understanding, identifying, and treating problems of youth must draw on multiple disciplines and diverse views within a given discipline.

    The task for individual contributors is to present the latest theory and research on various topics, including specific types of dysfunction, diagnostic and treatment approaches, and special problem areas that affect adjustment. Core topics within clinical work are addressed by the Series. Authors are asked to bridge potential theory, research, and clinical practice, and to outline the current status and future directions of these disciplines. The goals of the Series and the tasks presented to individual contributors are demanding. We have been extremely fortunate in recruiting leaders in the fields who have been able to translate their recognized scholarship and expertise into highly readable works on contemporary topics.

    The present book, by Drs. David Fergusson and Paul Mullen, examines the scope, nature, and effects of child sexual abuse. Central areas are covered, including evidence on the prevalence of child abuse, characteristics of abused children and perpetrators of abuse, the short-and long-term impact of abuse, and treatment. The authors draw from psychiatric epidemiology and developmental psychopathology and a range of research methods, including survey research and controlled clinical trials. An incisive account of the research is used to convey precisely what is and is not known about abuse and how current findings are in keeping with or depart from debates about the nature of abuse. Balanced coverage is provided on such controversial topics as the role of child abuse in contributing to psychiatric disorders, the utility and verifiability of information obtained from child testimony, and recovery of memories or false memories of child abuse. The experience of the authors in years of research on child abuse has provided them with a grasp of the theory, research, and clinical and social issues that is without peer. This book provides an authoritative, thoroughly informed, and incisive examination of the topic.

    Alan E.Kazdin PHD Series Editor


    We would like to acknowledge the work and diligence of Drs. Michael Lynskey and Lianne Woodward for their assistance in the preparation and editing of this book. Without their efforts and assistance, the task of preparing the work would have been far more onerous than it proved to be. Thanks are also due to Judith Stone, Kerry Purcell, and Julie King for their efforts in typing successive drafts of the manuscript and for the care with which they approached this task.

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    About the Authors

    David M. Fergusson is Associate Professor of the Christchurch School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study. He has an extremely strong background in research and spans multiple disciplines, both in his training and in the type of research he conducts. He has published extensively and is recognized internationally for writing a large number of high-quality articles on child and adolescent adjustment and clinical dysfunction. He has been the recipient of major grants, is professionally very active, and is involved with various conferences and boards.

    Paul E. Mullen is Foundation Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Monash University, and Director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health. He has completed advanced degrees in medicine and forensics. A highly accomplished author who is very active and visible professionally, he has a superb publication record in psychiatry, medicine, and health.

    Both authors, although working in Australia and New Zealand, have published widely in English-speaking countries and journals. Their publication records in sources in the United States and Great Britain have established their credentials, seniority in the field, and expertise on the topic of child sexual abuse.

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