Child Sexual Abuse

Although definitions can vary across legal, clinical, and research contexts, sexual abuse is commonly defined as sexual acts between a youth and an older person (e.g., by 5 years or more) in which the dominance of the older person is used to exploit or coerce the youth. Behaviors may include noncontact (e.g., exposure) and contact (e.g., intercourse) offenses.

The prevalence of sexual abuse is difficult to determine, but estimates suggest that as many as 20% of women and 5% to 10% of men report having been sexually abused as a child. The number of substantiated cases has dropped significantly in recent years, possibly due to a combination of factors, including changes in definitions and reporting and an actual decline in incidence. Sexual abuse occurs across all ...

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