Do The Abused Become Abusers?

July 17, 1998

(Risk factors for development of sexually abusive behaviour in sexually victimised adolescent boys: cross sectional study)

A substantial proportion of both boys and girls are sexually abused during childhood, making this an important public health issue. Such experiences have been linked to mental health disorders in later life, including depression and sexual dysfunction. Many adult paedophiles were themselves sexually victimised as children and evidence is emerging that a great many abusers began their activities in adolescence.

In this week's BMJ Professor David Skuse from the Institute of Child Health and colleagues from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the University of Southampton, report that the risk of sexually abused boys in early adolescence abusing other children may be associated with experiences in early life, other than their own sexual victimisation. Based on their preliminary study of 25 adolescent boys the authors found that persistent violence within the family may be a particularly important risk factor.

Based on their findings the authors conclude that the clinical management of sexually abused boys should take into account the impact of early life experiences that may be associated with increased risk, with a view to preventing future sexual abuse.

Contact:

Frances Tuke, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Press Office
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BMJ

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