Thomas Jefferson University
April 14, 2015
Early-Intervention Service for Non-Abusing Parents of Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
Recent research has brought to our attention the growing epidemic of unwanted sexual contact in childhood and the lasting effects it can have on a child as they develop. It has been found that a child who experienced sexual abuse may struggle with self-esteem, trust in relationships, sexual maladjustment, self-destructive behavior, and depression as an adult (Kjellgren et al., 2010). This article focused on the psychopathological symptoms of the parents of sexually abused children, due to the evidence of how a parent’s response can contribute to the future well-being of their child. Its goal was to find an “intervention service” that would educate and support parents following the disclosure of sexual abuse to their child.
Forbes, Duffy, Mok and Lemvig (2003) developed this pilot study in which the parents were placed into an “early intervention service” that focused on five main components: empathy and education about childhood sexual abuse, information about the investigative process, assessment of the parents and child’s pre and post levels of functioning, reinforcement of competent parenting, and advice on how to manage current/potential difficulties their child may present.
Prior to treatment, each parent completed a Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) to report both positive and negative symptoms each parent experienced within the past week. This also included a “measure of the overall level of distress, the Global Severity Index (GSI); the patterns of symptoms in nine domains; the Positive Symptoms Distress Index (PSDI) and a further summary measure, the Positive Symptoms Distress Index (PSDI)” (Forbes, Duffy, Mok & Lemvig, 2003). In addition, they completed the Parent Emotion Reaction Questionnaire (PERQ) which conveyed the parent’s emotional reaction to the knowledge of their child’s sexual abuse. Parents also completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Child Sexual Behavior Inventory (CSBI) for their child to assess for their positive and negative behaviors within a given time frame.
The results of this pilot study displayed a reduction of negative symptoms reported by the parents of the sexually abused children following the intervention, however there was not a significant difference in the paired t-tests. For the children, there was only a significant difference in the CSBI scores. When comparing the scores of both parents and children, the scores on the CBCI correlated with parental score changes. In addition, various correlation coefficients proved to be significant when comparing each of the instruments used (see Table 7).
In the formation of their hypothesis I would have liked to have seen a more in-depth literature review. I know that there was a lack of research conducted in this area at the time, but I would have liked to have learned more about what research led them to create an intervention for the parents of sexually abused children, in addition to, what evidence they used to create the intervention guidelines. Clinically, we can apply this research to benefit the parents of sexually abused children, however more must be said as to what specifically is done within the intervention presented in this study.
This study proved to have several limitations due to the nature of the research. Unfortunately, similar to a lot of other studys, there was a considerably small sample size. In addition, I would consider the consenting participants to be a part of a “convenience sample” because the parents and children were selected from one database which left us with a select group of individuals with similar