U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Current Treatment Strategies for Sexually Abused Children

NCJ Number
Journal of Aggression Volume: ltreatment and Trauma Issue: Dated: Pages: 1 (1997)-291
C I Tyndall
Date Published
15 pages
This article is an introduction to and overview of the treatment of sexually abused children of all ages, with attention to the importance of developmentally linked evaluation and treatment strategies.
The models and techniques described apply most directly to children sexually abused by a parent or other adult family member, but are generally relevant to cases of sibling abuse and, to some extent, extrafamilial abuse. Treatment is discussed in terms of goals, stages from evaluation to termination, formats, and modalities. The first task of treatment of a sexually abused child is a therapeutic evaluation. The evaluation is separate and different from a forensic assessment or any other evaluation used to assess the validity of the abuse report. The evaluation is used to identify problem areas, as well as the strengths and coping styles of the child. The evaluation should determine whether and how to provide treatment for the child. The evaluation should be a multi-modal assessment that includes a child interview, observation, family evaluation, caretaker report, teacher report, and possibly psychological testing. Several general treatment goals apply to almost all child victims of sexual abuse. They are to ameliorate presenting symptoms; develop a realistic and factual understanding of the abusive experience; ventilate feelings associated with the abuse; develop healthy physical, psychological, and interpersonal boundaries; achieve an appropriate balance between a sense of personal safety and a self-protective awareness; increase self-esteem; learn about healthy sexuality; and prevent perpetration or sexual acting out. Treatment techniques discussed in this article are individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, family psychotherapy, and hypnosis. The short-term and long-term consequences of child sexual abuse are outlined, and the termination of treatment is discussed. 3 tables and 25 references