Child Maltreatment, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 203-216
A sample of 123 children and their families who had reported sexual abuse were compared to a control group of 123 non-abused children and their families. Children completed questionnaires evaluating coping strategies, perceived social support, and self-esteem. Mothers completed questionnaires evaluating children’s behavioural problems and quality of family relationships. Results showed four clusters: an anxiety group in which children displayed some behaviour problems, a severe distress group in which children showed more highly elevated behaviour problems, and two clusters in which children functioned within normal levels. The greatest number of sexually abused children were in the anxiety group. The severe distress group had the greatest percentage of children reporting severe sexual abuse. Findings show that there are significant psychosocial differences between children who have reported sexual abuse, ranging from severe distress to resilience. A range of treatment options are required to meet the ranges of individual needs of children and their families having to cope with the aftermath of sexual abuse.