The incidence of child sexual abuse varies according to definitions and methods used. The MORI Poll 1984 found it to be 12% for girls and 8% for boys and to occur across all the social classes using this definition: “A child (anyone under 16 years) is sexually abused when another person, who is sexually mature, involves the child in any activity which the other person expects to lead to their own sexual arousal. This might involve intercourse, touching, exposure of the sexual organs, showing pornographic material or talking about sexual things in an erotic way”. The majority of studies have shown that these experiences can have adverse psychological effects, but the effect on the clinical practice of general psychiatrists seems to be too small if one considers the estimated 4.5 million adults in Great Britain who have been sexually abused as children. We thought that this could be related to attitudes rather than knowledge of the subject.
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