Monday, February 4, 2013

Ten Percent of Americans Believed to Be Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Approximately 10 percent of American adults were sexually abused as children, according to a study reported in Comprehensive Psychiatry. Moreover, they are more at risk of psychopathology and suicide attempts than are adults who were not sexually abused as children. The study was headed by Carlos Blanco, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. It included a large national sample of the United States population—some 34,000 individuals aged 18 or older. They were interviewed face to face, and psychiatric diagnoses were made according to DSM-IV criteria.

"Our study has clinical and preventive implications," Blanco and his colleagues said. "The initial effects of child sexual abuse include...sleep and eating disturbances, fears and phobias, depression, shame, guilt, problems, truancy, running away, and inappropriate sexual behavior. Therefore, clinical screening for child sexual abuse is important for early treatment to reduce the impact of psychological trauma."

For information about diagnosing and treating victims of child sex abuse, see Psychiatric News. Some guidelines on how to interview children suspected of being sexually abused can be found in American Psychiatric Publishing's Principles and Practice of Child and Adolescent Forensic Mental Health.

(Image: Monkey Business images/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.