Child Sexual Abuse: Consequences and Implications

Gail Hornor, RNC, MS, PNP


J Pediatr Health Care. 2010;24(6):358-364. 

In This Article

Other Behavioral Concerns

Child sexual abuse has been linked to the development of problematic behaviors. Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can develop as a result of sexual abuse, and the child may be misdiagnosed as having ADHD (Mullers & Dowling, 2008). The symptoms are actually the result of the trauma of sexual abuse and are more accurately diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety. Briscoe-Smith and Hinshaw (2006) reported that girls with ADHD were at increased risk of having been sexually abused. This is not to state that every child, male or female, diagnosed with ADHD has been sexually abused, but the possibility of sexual abuse should be explored in children, especially girls, diagnosed with ADHD.

Mullers and Dowling (2008) report a link between child sexual abuse and violent behavior, especially in adolescent males. The violent behaviors include the use of weapons and fighting. Violent behaviors are exhibited by male sexual abuse victims more frequently than female victims and are an example of an externalizing behavior to cope with the stress of sexual abuse. Cyr, McDuff, and Wright (2006) state that adolescent female victims of sexual abuse may vent their feelings through anger and aggression and accept relationships with these elements.


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