Table of Contents
ISRN Pediatrics
Volume 2011, Article ID 258640, 6 pages
Review Article

How Pediatricians Can Deal with Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused by Family Members

Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel

Received 6 September 2011; Accepted 3 October 2011

Academic Editors: V. M. Di Ciommo, Y. Finkelstein, and K. Tokiwa

Copyright © 2011 Ruth Wolf. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present paper discusses children who have been the victims of sexual abuse in their own family. It focuses on the special role of pediatricians and medical staff in identifying such children and providing them with initial assistance by reporting the situation to the authorities. The first part of the paper surveys the short- and long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse, including the physical and emotional impact of sexual exploitation and severe neglect. This section discusses the symptoms shown by abused children, and how they express and deal with their trauma. It is extremely important for pediatricians to be sensitive to the possibility of patients being abused at home, as this is an area still largely regarded as a societal taboo. Also included in this section a discussion of the effects that are manifested when the victim has grown to adulthood, such as personality disorders. The second part of the paper deals with how pediatricians must act when they encounter such a situation in which they suspect sexual abuse in the family. They should strive to identify the problem and bring it to the attention of the authorities. Discovery of the problem is the most vital part of the path to the victim's recovery. The paper also discusses the aspect of treatment, advising doctors who encounter this problem on ways of dealing with it.