Child Sexual Abuse and the Family

Broadly defined, child sexual abuse refers to any exploitation of a child or adolescent for another person's sexual gratification. Sexual abuse has varying effects on families. Family is defined as the individuals with whom the child resides and may include biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, or any sort of kinship placement such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles. A variety of behaviors and actions are considered sexual abuse, including fondling, oral-genital stimulation, digital/object penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse, or noncontact activities such as exposing oneself to a child, masturbating in front of a child, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and involving children in pornography. Sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members, acquaintances of the child, and, much less frequently, strangers. This entry discusses the prevalence, history, ...

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