The Affects of Sexual Abuse on

Children’s Social Skills


This paper seeks to analyze the relationship between child sexual abuse and poor social skills. It also aims to fill the academic literature gap on the same. Based on a within subject design, this study sampled 500 participants (250 boys and 250 girls) who are victims of child sexual abuse in the Chicago Illinois area. The researcher hypothesized that child sexual abuse has short term and long-term impact n the children’s social skills. The self-administered interviews used. The researcher used t-test statistics to compare two variables: child sexual abuse and poor social skills.

The Effects of Sexual Abuse on Children

According to National Center for Victims of Crime, (2013) sexual abuse includes sexual intercourse or its deviations or occurs whenever one person dominates and exploits another by means of sexual activity or suggestion”. Child sexual abuse has both short term and long-term impact on the victims. For example, sexually abused children have been known to suffer from Low self-esteem, depression, guilt, shame and blame. However, according toNational Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (2013), adult survivors of sexual abuse are highly likely to become abusive and violent because they lack trust. Despite all these arguments, literature on the impact of child sexual abuse is scarce and not enough per reviewed journals. This is a worrying trend because 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys in American is a victim of child sexual abuse, while at least 20% of American adults recall being sexually molested during their childhood. In as much as the problem of under reporting and bias, historical data shows that sexual deviance is increasing in the United States because in 2012 alone, 9.2% of all the victimized children were sexually abused. While this is the trend in America, King (2009) argues that over 90% of the sexually abused children are victims of the people they know. On the other hand, Snyder (2000) posits that sexually abused children tend to suffer from separation anxiety and are constantly exhibiting signs of posttraumatic stress disorder. Whereas these statistics only focus on the number of cases, there are no specific researches on the psychological impact of sexual abuse on children. The researcher therefore seeks to analyze the effects of sexual abuse on children.

Between the age of 3 and 18 years, children still need to develop their social and emotional skills. Therefore, any incidences that affects their ability to freely communicate with their peers, relatives or even the society, as completely has an unfortunate impact on their future ability to communicate. For example, children with poor social and emotional skills tend to be poor communicators, and are often shy. They do not have an active social life and are not likely to join clubs. Additionally, due to their emotional instability, theyhave poor conversation skills and cannot handle difficult behaviors such and teenage bullying or even simple teasing without being irrigated.

In a prospective study carried out by Jewkes et al, (2013, pp. e208), involving a sample of 1612 people of which 1327 were female found out that both male participants tend to have high rates of psychiatric reagents over the study period as compared to female participants. This may be associated with the overall societal perception that these are taboos and should be kept secret. In a number of societies, male victims are highly likely to be taken for psychiatric evaluation as compared to the female victims of child sexual abuse. However, Cheng-Fang et al, (2008, pp. 429–438), argues that male and female present significantly higher rate of treatments as compared to the general population control, and this means that male and female victims of child sexual abuse are highly likely to be go for psychiatric treatments as compared to the general population. Subsequently, it is healthy to assume that there is a significant correlation between child sexual abuse and child mental disorder. The social skills were measured using the Social Skills Rating System, as the social skills were the foundation of the study. Child sexual abuse will be measured in terms of frequency, and intensity using a retrospective study approach

In another study conducted by Blaney, &, Theodore, (2009, p. 528), it was realized that the rates of childhood mental disorders, personality disorders as well as anxiety disorders amongst the victims of child sexual abuse was higher compared to the rates of the same in the general population. Howeverthis is not the case with schizophrenia even though there are possibilities of confounding factors in the statistics provided such as underreporting, over reporting, cancelation and misreporting. Additionally, Turner (2011, p. 215), argues that the rate of childhood mental disorders tend to increase with the increasing rate of child sexual abuse. This is to mean that child sexual abuse has a huge psychological impact on children, which are both short terms and long term in nature. The relatives may also sexually abuse children with ease because they never suspect these relatives to have any ulterior motives. Therefore, in case of sexual abuse by close relatives, it becomes hard for the victims to ever trust anybody. They are also unlikely to discuss their personal issues with anybody especially their relatives.

In relation to sexual functioning, Brown (2009) reported that most women tend to have difficulties in their later life especially in terms of sexual expression and functioning. While women are mostly represented, it was realized that the male victims display aggression and possible hostility during sexual intercourse. It is important to note that these victims childhood sexual abuse all experience sexual distress with women experiencing higher intensity of sexual distress as compared to the male victims. In a clinical trial research conducted in psychiatric hospital, it was realized that some cases of child molestation, especially those involving incest, are committed in the absence of any identifiable deviant erotic age preference (Blaney, &, Theodore, 2009, p. 528). Therefore, it is right to conclude that child sexual abuse impact the victim’s quality of life in the short term and in the long run. It is also interesting to note that child sexual abuse can highly affect children’s social skills. For example, it is argued that women scored high in the trauma history questionnaire. However, for the victims of child sexual abuse abused by their family member of their closed relatives, they are more inclined to being abusive, and violent. There are many children abused by their closerelatives who grow up to distrust their family members are likely to develop allot of misgiving about their social environments. These children are torn between trust and mistrust and as they grow up, women do not experience sexual satisfaction, and are distressed. Many try to avoid being social and developed into shy individuals with emotional and behavioral outburst when confronted. This means that these children may exhibit self-conciseness and manipulative (Bonomi, et al, 2008, pp. 294–9)

In regards to social skills, victims of childhood sexual abuse may have excellent listening skills but are not emotionally intelligent. Their verbal communication may also be affected as they spend allot of hours quite and sorry for their life. In a research conducted by Zimring, (2009), when a product moment correlations coefficient was calculated to determine the relationship between number of sexually abused children and their school performance. There was a positive correlations between these major variables as r = 0.967, n = 60, p = 0.008. There is a strong, positive correlation between the child sexual abuse and poor education achievement. All sexually abused children have proven to demonstrate many symptoms as compared to the non-abused children. For example, the abuse accounted for close to 34% of the variances. The key symptoms included phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as behavioral problems, which mainly include poor or low self-esteem, and sexualized behaviors. It is however, important to note that the low self-esteem is the most outstanding behaviors problems amongst these victims of sexual abuse. There are also a number of factors that caused the variation in the range from problems experienced by the abused children. For example, penetrations and the frequencyof the abuse were the dominant factors while the duration of the sexual abuse, forces and the connection between the perpetrators and the abused child.

Another important factor that must be considered in thecae of child sexual abuse and the impact of the same on the children is the maternal support because Burgess, & Holmstrom, (2008, pp. 105 – 124), argues that the degree of symptomology is affected by the maternal support. For example, two thirds of victims of child sexual abuse tend to recover faster (13-20 months) when the level of support is higher than in the absence of maternal support. This means that parental support is very important in relations to recovery for the victims of child sexual abuse. Additionally, Wilson, et al, (2012) argues that all sexually abused children exhibit traumatizing processes and range of syndromes.

Based on four major trauma genic dynamics composed of traumatic sexualization, betrayal, powerlessness, and stigmatization, the researcher realized that the trauma causing factors are likely to impede recovery. These factors can contribute to the long-term effect of child sexual abuse on children because these experiences expose them to their childhood experiences making the recovery period longer and more traumatic. These trauma genic dynamics alter the victim’s cognitive as well as emotional orientations to their environment. They also cause trauma as they distort the victim’s self-concept and their perception about the world. They also affect the children’s affective capacities therefore, it is quite a common scenario to find that these children have a very poor sense of self-control, self-value and worth. The main factor in play is usually the dynamic of powerlessness.

Considering the fact that child sexual abuse has a lasting emotional, psychosocial and behavioraldevelopment on children, Morre, Walsh, & DiLillo, (2010, pp. 967–976), argues that these consequences are not likely to appear after years of mistreatment. However, according to Wisdom, et al, (2012, pp. 135–1), infant who are exposed to such mistreatment may exhibit the consequences immediately after sexual abuse. For example, they may feel unwanted so their behaviors include being passive, and withdrawn. However, when aroused they become violent. Additionally, a sexually abused girl exhibits internalizing and externalizing problems. Internalizing problems include depression, worry, fear, self-injury, and social withdrawal. In his research, Shin, & Miller, (2012, pp. 84–94), stated that girls may exhibit internalizing problems especially depression, while boys exhibit externalizing problems such as anger and aggressions. While girls are moiré affected d than boys psychologically, it is important to note that importance of allowing the victims to express themselves instead of forcing the children to keep calm or suppress their feelings. For example, Shin, & Miller, (2012, pp. 84-94), argues that the children who are forced to suppress their emotional and psychological problems are likely to become psychiatric cases with greater emphasis of psychopathy and sociopath. Additionally, Shin, & Miller, (2012, pp. 84–94), states that children under 8 years may not be aware that they have been sexually abused till they reach a specific age that they become aware of their immediate environment (Gold, & Lewis, 2011, pp. 459–467). Therefore, these children should not be exposed to environment in which they are made aware of their childhood problems as they can lead to different stages of upset, depression, and anger with their parent for not telling them what happened to them (Mossman-Morre, Walsh, & DiLillo, 2010, pp. 967–976).

Low self esteem has been documentedby Shin, & Miller, (2012, pp. 84–94), to be the most common impact of child sexual abuse followed by the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a number of attachment difficulties. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway (2013), attachment difficulties tend to have the worst impact on children. The children have difficulty forming normal attachments to their caregivers. This results into problematic social expectations as well as behaviors. This leads to abnormal early experiences such as abuse, neglect as well as rushed separation from the parents, the primary caregivers as well as friends and relatives. Additionally, Gold, (2011, pp. 459–467) states that sexually abused children develop insecure attachment to their relatives, peers and caregivers making them mistrustful of all adult figures. This affects their readiness to learn from adults leading to difficulties in their abilities to understand the general emotions of their peers, regulating their emotions and also forming as well as maintaining their friendship with their peers (Gold, Wolan, & Lewis, 2011, pp. 459–467). Therefore based on the above studies, this paper hypothesizes that child sexual abuse has short term and long terms impact on the victims social skills development.

Research Methodology Participants

The participants will be a sample of 250 girls and 250 boys volunteers recruited from the population of Chicago between the age of 5 and 18 years. The sample was composed of 20% "White, 30% "Black or African American, 10% "American Indian and Alaska Native American Indian and Alaska Native, 20% Asian, 5% Native Hawaiian, and 5% Cubans. For any participants to be eligible for inclusion in the sample, they must have been victims of child sexual abuse, must have lived within the community for longer than three years consecutively. They must have no history for severe mental illness, and must be competent in English (Xiangming, Brown, & Mercy, 2012, pp. 156–165; Widom, Czaja, Bentley, & Johnson, 2012, pp. 135–1,144)


This quantitative study adopted the within subject design. The main independent variables are their social emotional skills. The participants will be given survey questionnaires e Social Skills Rating System to fill in within the support of their legal personal representatives for those unable to write. All the ethical considerations will be taken into accounts especially in relations to privacy, and confidentiality, freedom of speech and rights to participate in the study. The researcher will also consider getting adequate permission and documentation from the relevant authorities to ensure that the rights of all the parties involved are not infringed. The process of triangulation in research is very important to the researcher and the outcome of the study because the research study must reflect the situation and must be backed by substantial evidence


Informed consent obtained from the hospitals administration and the parent of the participants before they were questioned. All the participants were asked to participate anonymously without stating their name or their areas of residence in the survey questionnaires. The longitudinal study will analyze the behaviors of both girls and boys at various stages of their lives through a repeated measure design. For example, the researcher will ask the children questions about the relationships, behaviors from the time they were grade 1 to their current grade. Their social and emotional skills will be enclosed based on how they reacted to various situations in their life. The participants will then leave the questionnaire with their legal representative who will also explain to them the purpose of the survey


For the analyses, the t-test was used, because I measured the Children’s social skills before and after the sexual abuse


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