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Dimensions of Child Sexual Abuse Before Age 15 in Three Central American Countries: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal Volume: 32 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 455-462
Ilene S. Speizer; Mary Goodwin; Lisa Whittle; Maureen Clyde; Jennifer Rogers
Date Published
April 2008
8 pages
This study examined the first national, population-based data available on child sexual abuse that occurs before age 15 in three countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The study demonstrates that the prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) in the three Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras ranged from 5 percent to 8 percent, and most of this abuse took place before the girl’s 11th birthday. Perpetrators of the abuse were most often known to the victim and her family and as shown in El Salvador were more likely to include the father, stepfather, or strangers where the abuse was forced sexual intercourse as compared to non-penetrative abuse. Women from Guatemala and Honduras who experienced CSA were found to be significantly more likely to be in violent relationships as compared to women who did not experience CSA, indicating the long-term impact of sexual abuse during childhood. The study indicates that CSA is a significant problem in the three countries studied. In addition, women exposed to CSA in Guatemala and Honduras were at increased risk of intimate partner violence in adulthood. Programs are needed in Central America to prevent sexual abuse and treat victims of CSA. These programs are crucial for reducing the prevalence and long-term impacts of abuse in the region. This study attempts to fill gaps in the understanding of CSA in Central America by using national population-based surveys, comparable study samples, and the same definitions of abuse across all three countries. These methodological improvements permit the assessment of the prevalence of CSA, the perpetrators of this abuse, and whether CSA is associated with adult intimate partner violence (IPV). Tables, references