- » Child Sexual Abuse: Intervention and Treatment Issues
- » Child Sexual Abuse: Intervention and Treatment Issues: Conclusion
Impressive progress has been achieved in the child sexual abuse field in the last 10 years. Advances have been made in identification, investigation, intervention, and treatment. Sexual abuse cases, perhaps even more than other types of maltreatment, require multidisciplinary, multiagency collaboration in order for professionals to effectively act in the victim's and family's best interest. Many communities have developed guidelines and protocols for handling these cases.
Yet there is still much work to be done. More progress has been made in the identification and investigation of sexual abuse than in treatment, and resources tend to go into these efforts rather than into preventing and ameliorating the problem. There is a startling paucity of treatment outcome studies. Consequently case management decisions and decisions about what techniques to use in treatment are made by clinicians without empirically tested guidelines.
Moreover, despite the progress in identification, many cases still go undetected. Further, our investigative techniques do not guarantee all victimized children will disclose, and many cases are still inadequately investigated. Moreover, in too many instances children's disclosures are met with skepticism, and the conscientious work of professionals acting on their behalf is challenged.
Although in part professional shortcomings relate to the fact that our abilities to address sexual abuse are still developing, they are largely the result of lack of adequate resources. Caseloads for child protection staff and foster care workers are too large; their training is inadequate; and because of the stresses of the job, their turnover rates are unacceptably high. There are too few trained clinicians who can provide treatment to families and individuals involved in sexual abuse, and when skilled professionals are available, there are often insufficient funds to pay for the necessary treatment. Finally, the funding for research to help us better understand sexual abuse and how to address it is in very short supply.
Nevertheless, professionals in the field of child sexual abuse continue to strive to educate the public and other professionals about this problem and its pervasive effects. Despite the shortage of resources, there is leadership at the Federal and State levels that has played a fundamental role in the substantial progress that has been made. The willingness of adults with prominent roles in the community to identify themselves as former victims and survivors of sexual abuse has added immeasurably to the credibility of child victims and has inspired professionals to continue their work.
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