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Prioritization of child sexual abuse by caregivers

Prioritization of child sexual abuse by caregivers The previous section indicated that although CAPTA guidelines and state statutes afford protection to victims of all types of child sexual abuse, the implementation of these statutes has resulted in a system of unequal access to protection and resources based upon the identity of the offender. As a result, cases of abuse by noncaregivers easily fall through the many cracks in the system, as evidenced by the stark data in Table 12-1 indicating that victims of extrafamilial abuse remain disproportionately unidentified. Given that approximately 84% to 88% of abuse is by nonguardians, this is a tragic consequence of the prioritization of abuse by caregivers over noncaregivers.4 While this issue has not seemed to arouse much concern historically (as evidenced by the dearth of professional literature), there are extremely important and negative ramifications to this prioritization of abuse by caregivers. First, because victims of extrafamilial abuse are more likely than victims of intrafamilial abuse to disclose their abuse (Finkelhor, 1984; Sauzier, 1989), the voices of these children are more easily ignored, and thus silenced. Second, even though extrafamilial abuse is less likely than intrafamilial abuse to occur only a single time, more than one-fourth of all extrafamilial abuse occurs multiple times. Further, extrafamilial abuse is perpetrated at a more severe level than intrafamilial abuse and is more likely to involve multiple perpetrators (Bolen, 1996). Thus, even though the risk of revictimization for extrafamilial abuse is less than that for intrafamilial abuse, it still occurs with enough frequency and with the threat of serious enough abuse to warrant great concern. Finally, even victims of extrafamilial abuse who are identified are at a disadvantage because they may not have the same resources available to them as do victims of intrafamilial abuse. One piece of compelling evidence is studies indicating that although victims of extrafamilial abuse suffer significant deleterious effects from the abuse (Gregory-Bills & Rhodeback, 1995), they remain significantly under-represented in treatment populations of children (Bolen, 1998a; English & Tosti-Lane, 1988). Thus, most states have failed to implement strategies that provide adequate access to protection and treatment for victims of extrafamilial abuse, as required by CAPTA.

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