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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557

Abstract

PFEIFFER, Luci  and  SALVAGNI, Edila Pizzato. Current view of sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2005, vol.81, n.5, suppl., pp. s197-s204. ISSN 0021-7557.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0021-75572005000700010.

OBJECTIVE: To review single aspects, which involve sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence, giving subsidies for accurate diagnosis and management, emphasizing the short and long-term consequences. SOURCES OF DATA: National and international literature review of the MEDLINE and LILACS databases, using abuse and sexual violence as keywords (1988 to 2005), in addition to the authors' theoretical and practical experiences. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: Sexual abuse has a great impact on child and adolescent physical and mental health, affecting development and causing lifelong damage. Its early detection allows for adequate treatment and follow-up, with minimum consequences. Family involvement must be taken into consideration, and any kind of improper relationship should be evaluated and treated, so that it can be discouraged and eliminated; otherwise, intergenerational abuse will result and probably recur. The identification of domestic violence and of physical and psychological warning signs concerning sexual abuse is part of the general evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatricians should be able to identify the signs and symptoms sexually abused children and adolescents carry with them. They have to listen carefully to the patients, perform the necessary clinical examination and establish the proper treatment. They should also be able to deal with psychological aspects and have enough knowledge about the laws and about legal and social protection measures, which are always very useful in assisting victims of sexual violence.

Keywords : Sexual abuse; sexual violence; incest; childhood and adolescence.

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