Child Sexual Abuse In Focuse After Debra Lafave Arrested Again

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The effects of child and teenage sexual abuse is again the focuse of the media after Debra Lafave is arrested again for violating her probation. Children and teens are effected mentally and physically.

Debra Lafave, the Florida teacher who pleaded guilty to lewd behavior with a teenage boy, has been arrested for allegedly violating her probation, reports AP. While the case of Debra Lafave this time is only about probation, what about the mental and physical effects of child and teen sexual abuse and how to cope with them?

Missoury Department of Mental Health has prepared a very helpful fact sheet about Sexual Abuse effects, which we present below.

Sexual abuse affects at least one of every 10 families in the United States. In Missouri, more than 2,100 cases are reported each year, but it is estimated that nine in 10 cases are never reported.

Any sexual contact between an adult and an unconsenting person is considered abuse and any sexual contact between an adult and a minor, regardless of consent, is abuse. Sexual abuse also can include indecent exposure, pornography, obscene phone calls, or exposure to sexual acts.

Like rape, sexual abuse is a form of violence. Its effects span generations with many victims of childhood sexual abuse experiencing emotional problems years later as adults.

Some of the physical effects of sexual abuse are immediately apparent and can include bruises, cuts, burns, injury to genitals, damage to reproductive and other internal organs, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.

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The psychological effects of sexual abuse may appear immediately, but often are delayed. Sexual abuse can destroy trust and warp the victim's perception of a normal, loving relationship. Victims frequently feel they are at fault for the abuse and have low self-esteem. These feelings can lead to depression, eating and sleeping disorders, and suicide attempts.

Victims may fall into a pattern of searching out marital and sexual partners who abuse them. They may find it difficult to form meaningful and lasting relationships with members of the opposite sex or to have normal sexual relations. They may use sex to gain attention or affection and may see themselves worthy only as sex objects.

Victims also resort to defense mechanisms to blot the incidents from their mind. These repressed feelings of anger and guilt may lead to physical and psychological problems. Physically, repressed feelings may cause ulcers, colitis, and migraine headaches, for example.

Psychologically, repressed memories of abuse may resurface as symptoms of other mental illnesses. Unless a history of abuse is revealed, a victim may be treated for a mental illness while the real cause of the symptoms goes untreated.

Guidelines on Interactions Between Individuals from CDC

To ensure the safety of youth in their interactions with employees/volunteers and with each other.

"Guidelines on interactions between individuals should be determined by an organization's mission and activities. For example, organizations that promote one-on-one activities between adults and youth may need different interaction guidelines than programs built around group activities."

Since Debra Lafave was a teacher in a school setting there is a message to shools as well. "Organizations should develop interaction policies before situations arise. The strategies listed below should be tailored to the developmental age and maturity of the youth and employees/volunteers. Strategies should also match the cultural context of the population served by the organization. In this section, "adult" refers to any individual in a supervisory position, including youth." - CDC

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