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Child extrafamilial sexual abuse: predicting parent and child functioning

Child extrafamilial sexual abuse: predicting parent and child functioning

Child Abuse and Neglect 22(12): 1285-1304

This study evaluated the emotional and behavioral adjustment of parents and children within 3 months and 1 year after the discovery of child extrafamilial sexual abuse. Ninety-two case parents (63 mothers, 29 fathers) and 56 children were compared to a nonclinical comparison group of 136 parents (74 mothers, 62 fathers) and 75 children. Parent adjustment was assessed using self-report measures while child functioning was assessed using a combination of child-, parent- and teacher-report measures. Mothers, fathers and sexually abused children experienced clinically significant effects both initially and at 12 months post-disclosure. Children's perceptions of self-blame and guilt for the abuse and the extent of traumatization predicted their self-reported symtomatology at 3 months and 1 year post-disclosure. Child age and gender also significantly contributed to the prediction of many of the child outcome measures. No abuse-related variable was related to any child self-report measure. Mothers' satisfaction in the parenting role, perceived support and intrusive symptoms predicted their initial emotional functioning. Avoidant symptoms, child's internalizing behavior and mothers' initial emotional functioning were significant predictors of longer-term emotional functioning. Results emphasize the need to address children's abuse-related attributions and underscore the need to expand our focus beyond the child victims to the traumatized families.

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Accession: 045502882

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PMID: 9871788

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