Policy ForumPsychology

The Science of Child Sexual Abuse

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Science  22 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5721, pp. 501
DOI: 10.1126/science.1108066

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Child sexual abuse (CSA) involving sexual contact between an adult and a child has been reported by approximately 20% of women and 5 to 10% of men worldwide. A history of CSA leads to serious mental and physical health problems, substance abuse, and criminality in adulthood. Scientific study of CSA is currently underfunded, obscured by contentious forensic controversy, and fragmented by discipline. From public health, economic, ethical, and scientific perspectives, the authors of this Policy Forum recommend interdisciplinary consensus panels and increased intellectual investment in CSA research, prevention, intervention, and education.