Sexually abusing families

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Among the most dramatic changes taking place over the past decade has been the increased attention to sexual abuse of children. Over the decade, research has tended to address the concerns of professionals working in the community with cases of child sexual abuse.


Sexual use of younger persons by older persons involves a wide range of specific behaviors. A popular definition of sexual abuse is forced, tricked, or coerced sexual behavior between a young person and an older person. Many current definitions of sexual abuse include the element of an age difference of at least five years between victim and offender. The elements defining sexual abuse are intended to exclude consensual sexual exploration or experimentation, without coercion, between age-mates. Studies of child victims and adult sexual offenders may yield different rates for the same type of behaviors. Researchers have often tended to use different definitions or criteria for sexual behaviors, and self-report data from sexual offenders are generally regarded as unreliable (Trepper et. al, 1996).
Whatever the number, it is clear that sexual abase is a problem that affects large numbers of children. The belief that incest or "family sexual abuse" is a fundamentally different kind of clinical problem than pedophilia is at the basis for current policy that advocates the treatment of incestuous fathers and stepfathers in community settings. ...
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