Not enough being done for girls who sexually abuse say researchers

Researchers at the University of Canterbury say a common belief that sexual abuse of children by young females is harmless, has resulted in under-reporting of cases and a lack of appropriate rehabilitation services.

Department of Social Work researchers surveyed around 400 health professionals working in mental health and adolescent health services in Christchurch who identified 8 females, between the ages of 12 and 19, who had been responsible for sexual abuse.

Coercion had been used by four of them, with physical force used by three. Their current mean age was 16, but some had been pre-teen when they started abusing. Their victims were male and female. In nearly all the cases, the adolescents abused people well known to them.

Three of the health professionals who responded to the survey did not know how many people their clients had abused.

Lead researcher, Nikki Evans, says none of the young women noted in the research had been referred for treatment.

Most had abusive backgrounds, poor social skills and histories of low academic achievement and were in need of specialist intervention.

Ms Evans says there is an urgent need for treatment programmes which help address the social problems many young abusers have had to deal with in their lifetime, and which may have led to their offending.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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