Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has serious public health consequences and implications. Variables such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, and other socioeconomic factors in relation to CSA could be better understood. However, a consistent definition of CSA among research, governmental, and regional sectors in the United States does not exist. Differences in the operationalization of CSA have contributed to the fluctuation of prevalence and incidence rates. The literature varies with respect to age requirements for CSA and types of sexual behaviors. The Department of Justice lacks a detailed definition of CSA, and the definition also differs from state to state. At times different types of child abuse are aggregated, or lacks differentiation from child maltreatment, molestation, or other types of abuse. This report is a call to action to standardize the definition of CSA at the local, state, and federal levels. A definition is needed that is inclusive of different subsets of CSA, given that more aggressive abusive episodes can elicit more adverse outcomes. Without consistency and uniformity in how CSA and subtypes of CSA are defined, discrepancies in occurrences, research outcomes, and preventative and interventional efforts could hinder the progress made in this field of study.
Roberta Ezinma Emetu,
A Needed Uniform Criteria for Defining Childhood Sexual Abuse, Science Journal of Public Health.
Vol. 7, No. 1,
2019, pp. 1-4.
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