Sexual Abuse

Resources – General

  • Parenting a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused: A Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents
    This Child Welfare Information Gateway factsheet discusses how foster and adoptive parents can help children and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse. It provides basic information about sexual abuse and links to other information so that parents can education themselves about the topic. The factsheet suggests ways to establish guidelines for safety and privacy in the family, and it offers suggestions about when to seek professional help and where to find such help. (July 2013)

  • Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse
    This consumer-focused resource kit from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network contains information and fact sheets for parents, caregivers, and adolescents. The kit provides parents and caregivers with tools to help them support children who have been victims of sexual abuse, information on the importance of talking to children and youth about body safety, and guidance on how to respond when children disclose sexual abuse. Also included is advice on how to cope with the shock of intrafamilial abuse and with the emotional impact of legal involvement in sexual abuse cases. Caring for Kids provides adolescents with information about the prevalence of acquaintance rape and tips to help reduce their risk for abuse. It also offers guidance on what to do if they are a victim of acquaintance rape including disclosure, medical attention, and professional counseling. (April 2009)

This resource is available as a single PDF file and as the individual components listed below:

  • Polyvictimization: Children’s Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence
    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention released this bulletin from its National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) series. This bulletin focuses on polyvictimization, which is defined as having experienced multiple victimization of different kinds, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullying, and exposure to family violence. (October 2011)
  • When the Victim Is Very Young: Assessing Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Pre-School Children
    This two-part series by Victor Vieth was featured in Reasonable Efforts, a publication of the American Prosecutors Research Institute (ARPI), the training and technical assistance provider for the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC) at Winona State University (WSU).
    Part 1: This article explores the difficulties of substantiating sexual abuse among children ages 0-6. (2005)
    Part 2: This article offers tips for overcoming the difficulties of substantiating abuse among children ages 0-6 and securing justice for very young children. (2006)

Resources – Prevention

  • Protecting Your Children: Advice from Child Molesters
    This resource describes typical child molesters, explains how they gain access to children, lists indications that a child is being molested, and provides tips for prevention and where to get help. This information was developed and written by child molesters in treatment at The Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Oregon. (2010)

The guide includes prevention goals and critical strategies for each component. Suggestions for addressing challenges and tools to help organizations get started are also provided. (2007)

  • Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: A National Resource Directory and Handbook
    The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has created this directory of resources from more than 400 sexual abuse prevention programs about effective strategies for reducing child sexual abuse. It includes a review of organizations, program models, initiatives, and other resources that can be used to establish or improve child sexual abuse prevention efforts. (2006)

Resources – Treatment

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children Affected by Sexual Abuse or Trauma
    Published by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, this issue highlights Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment approach to helping children affected by sexual abuse or other traumatic events.  TF-CBT aims to reduce both negative emotional and behavioral responses following child traumatic, while also helping caregivers to effectively cope with their own emotional distress and develop skills that support their children.  The issue brief, written primarily for caseworkers and other professionals working with at-risk families, discusses the features, key components, target population, and effectiveness of TF-CBT.  It provides suggestions for workers and professionals referring children and caregivers to TF-CBT therapists, as well as considerations for child welfare agency administrators, and concludes with an array of additional resources. (August 2012)

  • Treatment Effects for Common Outcomes of Child Sexual Abuse: A Current Meta-Analysis
    This article by Emily V. Trask, Kate Walsh, and David DiLillo was published in “Aggression and Violent Behavior” v. 16, 1.
    Abstract: The present meta-analysis examined the effects of psychosocial treatments at reducing deleterious outcomes of sexual abuse. The meta-analysis included a total of 35 published and unpublished studies written in English, focusing on youth under the age of 18, and evaluating the effectiveness of treatments for the most common negative outcomes of sexual abuse: PTSD symptoms, externalizing problems, and internalizing problems. Results revealed medium effect sizes for PTSD symptoms, externalizing problems, and internalizing problems following treatment for sexual abuse. This study also examined the potential moderating effects of treatment (e.g., modality, duration, inclusion of caregiver) and participant (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity) characteristics. Results indicated that longer interventions were associated with greater treatment gains while group and individual treatments were equally effective. These findings shed new light on treatment effectiveness and provide useful information regarding the conditions under which treatment may be most effective. Future directions for research in this area are discussed. (January-February, 2011)

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Addressing the Mental Health of Sexually Abused Children
    Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) has been found to reduce children’s negative emotional and behavioral responses after sexual abuse and other traumatic events. It also helps nonoffending parents cope with their own distress and develop skills to support their children. This issue brief from Child Welfare Information Gateway explores the characteristics and benefits of TF-CBT to help child welfare caseworkers and other professionals who work with at-risk families make more informed decisions about when to refer children and their caregivers to TF-CBT programs. It includes information about what makes TF-CBT unique, key components, target population, effectiveness, and what to look for in a TF-CBT therapist. (May 2007)

  • Child Physical and Sexual Abuse: Guidelines for Treatment
    These Guidelines seek to present the best available information about the mental health treatment of physical and sexual abuse in a concise and consistent format that can be easily used by practitioners and other interested professionals. The Guidelines seek to cover the most common approaches, the protocols with the most empirical support, theoretically sound and promising treatments that may not have been tested empirically and some practices that raise concern. The Guidelines can be used to identify “first choice” treatments, i.e., those that have empirical support for their efficacy; other treatments with strong clinical and theoretical support and wide acceptance within the field; novel and innovative treatments that may be used with caution; and other interventions that lack empirical, clinical or theoretical support, should be considered experimental or even potentially dangerous, and should not be used. This resource was prepared by the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center and the Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress. (Revised Report: April 2004)

  • Child Sexual Abuse: Intervention and Treatment Issues
    This manual is intended to address the needs of professionals who encounter child sexual abuse in the course of their work. It describes professional practices in sexual abuse and discusses “how to” address the problems of sexually abused children and their families. It is not designed for laypersons, and it makes an assumption that the reader has basic information about sexual abuse. This manual is designed to be useful to professionals from a range of disciplines and with varying levels and types of training. In this manual, issues regarding substantiation and case management are explored in greater depth than treatment techniques and research. Specialized legal and medical information regarding sexual abuse is not covered. This manual was developed and produced by The Circle, Inc. and is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Resources – for Youth

  • Stories about Sexual Abuse for Youth by Youth
    The following stories are available on the Represent Magazine/Youth Communication website:
    • Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
      The youth writer goes to family court numerous times for hearings on her sexual abuse case, but is never allowed to speak in court. This story is accompanied by a Teacher Lesson with prompts for discussion/writing, an activity, and a role play. (2006)
    • Haunted
      Years later, the male author still feels deeply ashamed about being raped at age 8. (2000)
    • I’m Glad I Spoke Up
      After telling a counselor that she’s being abused, the youth writer is removed from her home and gets the help she needs to recover. (1999)
    • Recovering from Rape
      Psychologist Patti Feurereisen talks to youth writer Mimi about how to recover from the trauma of rape. (1998)

Additional stories related to sexual abuse can be found on the Represent website.

  • You Are Not Alone: Sexual Abuse Survivors (English and Spanish)
    This book from Lawyers For Children will give you the following information: What is sexual abuse; Who to tell about the abuse; What to expect from the Child Welfare System and Criminal Justice System when sexual abuse is reported; How young people may be affected by sexual abuse; The services and professionals that can help with a healthy recovery; and, Directory of important phone numbers.
    You Are Not Alone: Sexual Abuse Survivors (English)
    Tu No Estas Solo: Supervivientes de Abuso Sexual (Spanish)


  • Sexual Abuse Series
    This online curricula series is available through the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program, and includes downloadable materials such as handouts, overheads, appendices, and trainer resources.

Though not part of this series, the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program also offers an online curriculum on Supervisory Issues in Child Sexual Abuse. (2007)

Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts, and Videos

  • Child Sexual Abuse Webinars
    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma has archived webinars on child sexual abuse. (You must create an account to access the webinars.) Webinars are available on the following topics:
    • Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Parental and Clinical Perspective (2011)
    • Responding to LGBTQ Youth After Sexual Abuse (2011)
    • Secondary Traumatic Stress in Professionals Treating Child Sexual Abuse (2010)
    • Raising Awareness of Child Abuse: Collaborating with News Professionals (2010)
    • Understanding Child Sexual Abuse and Coping within the School Setting: Lessons from the film, “Precious” (2010)
    • Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse (2009)

  • The Promise of Trauma-focused Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse
    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network developed this video to provide information about the impact of child sexual abuse, to emphasize the importance of including parents/caretakers in treatment, and to highlight the need for children in therapy to learn specific skills to deal with what has happened to them and to talk about the details of their sexually abusive experiences. The video is targeted primarily to individuals who refer sexually abused children to therapists. It is also useful for parents and caretakers of sexually abused children and therapists who treat sexually abused children.



Last updated 1/30/14