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Caring for Young Adolescent Sexual Abuse Victims in a Hospital-Based Children's Advocacy Center

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 32 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2008 Pages: 1119-1126
Laurel Edinburgh; Elizabeth Saewyc; Carolyn Levitt
Date Published
December 2008
8 pages

This study compared health care assessments, referrals, treatment, and outcomes for young adolescent sexual assault/sexual abuse victims treated at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) with those receiving care at other facilities.


Results showed that the hospital-based CAC provided better assessments of abuse-related risk factors, the abuse experience, and the management of the immediate sexual health needs of teens; adolescents who were evaluated at CAC received more thorough health assessments, were more likely to have documented genital injuries, and were more likely to be treated or tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than community cases. Teens evaluated at the CAC also received more referrals for counseling than those teens evaluated in the community. In the in-depth histories obtained by the CAC, young teens disclosed more types of abuse on average than did community teens interviewed by law enforcement. Health care professionals not working in a CAC need better training in assessing teens when they report sexual abuse, and whenever possible, teens who experience sexual abuse would benefit from receiving their care in a hospital-based CAC. While the CAC may offer a best practice model of health care for the sexually abused young teens, its role in affecting prosecution or legal outcomes appears limited in this case. Data were collected from a retrospective matched case-comparison design which matched index CAC cases diagnosed with extra-familial sexual assault to non-CAC cases referred for prosecution in the same county, matched by age and sex of victim, age and sex of perpetrator, and type of assault (N=128 pairs). Tables and references