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Developmental psychology

Developmental psychology

Report Sections must include:
Aim of the paper and introduction to the topic: the background, including, if possible, some demographic
statistics about the issue (1 paragraph)
Current approaches to policy and/or practice or intervention (3-4 paragraphs)
Pathways analysis (about 1500 words)
Suggestions for intervention and/or policy changes (3-5 paragraphs)
Conclusion (1 paragraph)
Pathway models will be explained in lectures and guidance will be provided in how to write the report.
Use the headings provided.
Use APA formatting througout including double spacing between lines and two spaces after a full stop,
appropriate heading styles and referencing. See APA Manual for details.
Write your report as a word document (.doc or docx) and submit it via Learnonline.
Word length: State the word length (excluding the cover page and references) on the first page of the
assignment, under the title.


Developmental psychology

The effects of child sexual abuse go beyond childhood. Sexual abuse result in several
effects that cause depression, loss of self-esteem, identity confusion, and many emotional
problems later in life (Pipe et al., 2013). Child abuse can also develop difficulties in relating with
the opposite sex later in life. Sexually abuse is ethically and morally wrong (America, 2012).
Child sexual abuse is a menace that requires amicable interventions to be executed. Surveys
have reported that approximately 15% of adult males and 20% of adult females recall having
childhood sexual abuse incident or sexual assault (Barth, Bermetz, Heim, Trelle & Tonia, 2013).
For many centuries, child abuse has not been taken serious. Children have been subjected to
abuse by their parents or adults since the beginning of time. Laws have also constantly failed to
protect children sexual abuse because children are considered as properties of their fathers
(America, 2012). Child sexual abuse has not been viewed as a common problem historically.
Philosophers assumed that talking about incest in their past meant that these adults imagined
things rather than the actual act. This is also used to be a common assumption by medical experts
who dealt with patients having psychological problems (Zwi, Woolfenden, Wheeler, Obrien &
Tait, 2015). This paper analyzes sexual abuse and sheds light briefly on the background of the
social problem. The paper also analyses some of the policies that have been put in place
including school-based prevention policies and legal policies to minimize child sexual abuse

Current Policies and Interventions

Most prevention strategies are developed in response to a particular problem. Therefore,
it is difficult to come up with a comprehensive plan before the causes and consequences of the


problem are well conceptualized. Critics have cited that most prevention strategies regarding
child abuse prevention emphasize only after the abuse has taken place. The existing child
protection systems have been developed at the expenses of efforts to prevent child sexual abuse.
In most states child protection officers and law enforcement agencies have limited skills and lack
the mandate to influence prevention policies or even address the existing numerous factors that
cause child sexual abuse (Godbout et al., 2014).
Prevention programs in school have been considered to be a cost-effective strategy. They
are geared towards teaching children how to evade or flee abusive situations as compared to
coping with the consequences after being abuse. These programs are not combined with other
secondary prevention strategies which should include an ongoing effort to encourage children
not disclose their past abuse which can be done during or after an abuse prevention program has
been conducted (Smallbone et al., 2013).
The school plays a central role since delivery primary and secondary prevention
strategies that focus on education can reach out to a larger population minimizing sexual abuse
incidences. However most school-based sexual prevention strategies are based on the assumption
that sexual offenders are strangers, but most of these abusers are known to the victims. Very little
efforts are in place to educate children about sexual abuse that can happen even within the family
other experts also argue that prevention programs use simple approaches compared to the sexual
offense which is a complex problem. Teaching skilled avoidance tactics are not enough to
prevent child sexual abuse which is on the rise; intervention needs to consider focusing on wider
social network but not just of children alone (Zwi et al, 2015)..
Pathway Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse


Despite the statistics collected for several decades, people still think that children imagine
things and that child abuse is not a serious problem. Researching on child abuse is difficult
because there are several unreported cases. Furthermore adult victims are not willing to share the
horrific experience. Despite these challenges child sexual abuse still exists and is one of the
concerns that causes psychological problems in adulthood (Mrazek & Kempe, 2014).

Link1: From sexual abuse to low self-esteem
Take an example of Jessica who becomes an active student in class starts performing
poorly in class due to low self-esteem. This manifested after she has been sexually abuse by her
neighbor. Jessica lived with her grandmother who could not properly take care of her. The
grandmother could not offer her the basics due to poverty .Jessica was forced to work to help her
grandmother at an early age. Jessica’s mother died while her father abandoned her living her
with the grandmother. Working for people to get some money exposed Jessica to various abuses
including sexual abuse. This is a common phenomenon experienced by young girls from poor
backgrounds. Most parents are unavailable to provide them with all the basic needs hence
making them more vulnerable to abuse (Findlater, 2014).
Child protection entails providing children with all the basic needs and ensuring that they
live in a safe environment that fosters healthy behavior (Godbout, Briere, Sabourin & Lussier,
Alcoholism Childhood

Low self-
esteem and


2014). Vulnerable children like Jessica are likely to be exposed to situations that can lead to
being sexually abused which in turn trigger emotions of low self-esteem and depression.
Self-esteem is described as an individual’s identification of positive facets of themselves
which they like and appreciate. It is based on beliefs, self-perception, and feelings that one has
about himself. If a person’s self-esteem is healthy, s/he feels self-confident, proficient, and
competent to carry out various activities in his/her life. Finkelhor et al., (2014) state that self-
esteem instills a ‘can do’ attitude. In addition, self-esteem affects the behaviors, motivation for
behavior, and attitudes of a person. It has an impact on an individual’s ability to control thoughts,
emotions, and behaviors and maintain positive social relationships.
According to Mallon & Hess (2014), children develop self-esteem early in their life.
When the children believe in themselves, they face challenges efficiently and perform well not
only academically but also in other day-to-day activities. However, when a child is sexually
abused, the child feels powerless and helpless, unable to exercise any level of mastery in any
situation. A loss in self-esteem later bears feelings of shame, depression, relationship difficulties,
and loneliness. Moreover, children that have been abused sexually develop the fear of being hurt
as well as self-blame and guilt regarding the sexual abuse (Findlater, 2014). The victim also
develops a sense of being damaged. They perceive themselves as being worthless and invaluable.
All these features contribute significantly to development of low self-esteem.
Link 2: from low self-esteem to Alcoholism
Initially Jessica was an active student but after being sexually abused by her neighbor she
developed fear and felt worthless. Pecora et al., (2012) reveal that when a child is sexual abused
his self-esteem reduces because they have a negative view of themselves.


Studies have revealed that when low self-esteem plays a major part in a teenager’s
upbringing, the person starts viewing himself as inferior to everyone else and deficient in a
number of ways (Schetky & Green, 2014). They start viewing their looks and bodies as
undesirable and doubting their ability to take part in any sport. Others tell themselves that they
have an insufficient brain power. Low self-esteem causes a feeling of being stuck with little or
no energy or motivation. These victims become drudgery hence increasing the likelihood of
engaging in destructive behavior and escaping into a world where they are not subjected to
judgment. The victims find it an easy to take part in alcohol consumption since it does not
require any special ability and no one cares if one likes himself or not (Mallon & Hess, 2014).
Alcohol drinking is considered to be an effortless way of solving self-esteem issues. Low self-
esteem is centered on psychological and emotional belief that one will fail, scorned, or be
ridiculed no matter the outcome hence there is no need for one to engage in any positive conduct.
It is advisable for parents, guardians, and instructors to cultivate a sense of positive self-
esteem (Furniss, 2013). Self-worth, and reinforcement to the children or students no matter how
small or inconsequential the situation seems. Embarrassing, pitting, or berating a child against
other children does not trigger the “less than” performer to put in more effort or tackle a
challenge. Instead, it spawns insecurity and resentment on both the parent and the sibling of
friend. Therefore, it is the duty of parents and educators to work with their children to dispense
negative talk and develop something special with the child that they can identify with and share
pride in it. More importantly, parents should dispel mental replaying of previous events such as
that of sexual abuse that arouse unpleasant memories. Furniss (2013) adds that engaging in the
“blame game” or maintain the ambers from previous experiences burning is self-destructive and
strengthen an individual’s inability to perform or meet the challenge.


Summary of pathways analysis
With little or no parental guidance, children are likely to be sexually abused. These
children’s self-esteem will be low and can cause depression. Chronic depression drives an
individual it engaging in reckless conducts such as alcohol and substance abuse, mugging, and
being abusive to their children in future. Policy programs targeting school-aged children educate
them on child sexual abuse and how to safeguard themselves. This helps to minimize the rate of
child abuse within the society. School-based programs are designed to advise children about
inappropriate touch and how to identify abusive situations. Children also learn how to refuse any
favors and how to get out of an abusive situation (Pecora et al., 2012).
Victimization of children alters their attitudes, self-concept, and attributes, the change
may in turn influence an individual’s response to later situations (Euser, Alink, Tharner, van
IJzendoorn & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2013). Studies have identified that low self-esteem to be
a primary consequence of childhood victims (Euser,et al, 2013). Low self-esteem arises due to a
child’s feelings of low self-worth translated from the notion that s/he was responsible for the
neglect or abuse. Abuse and neglect are also indirectly associated with low self-esteem; this is as
a result of poor social and interpersonal skills and lowered cognitive functioning.
Child maltreatment has always been related to certain aspects of adjustment by children.
For example, sexual abuse predicts low self-esteem, but not peer relationship issues. On the other
hand, emotional abuse is not associated with low self-esteem but difficulties in peer relationship
(Wright, 2014). Therefore, the best predictions of particular aspects of a child’s adjustment are
provided by considering severity, timing, and timing of maltreatment. For certain a group of
abused minors, having good friends is associated with improved over time in self-esteem.


The manner in which one views himself will obviously have an effect on how he
experiences his life. Individuals that have low self-esteem end up struggling trying to find
happiness and success, mostly because the regard themselves as worthless to enjoy what life has
to offer. Eventually, lack of self-worth affects every area of an individual’s life, more so the
relations people s/he has with other people. A number of individuals who are suffering from low-
self-esteem will engage in alcohol abuse because it provides a “solution” to their problems
(Wright, 2014). What these individuals do not know is that use of alcohol to solve feelings of
low self-esteem only opens another door to further addiction and misery.
As part of policy requirements, school administrators are required to assess the existing
child protection policies and procedures to review appropriate areas with the privileging
situations (Furniss, 2013). School officials are expected come up with the standard code of
conduct and also create screening procedures before hiring staffs or any volunteer. Teachers are
required to report child sexual abuses to the relevant authorities (Barth, Bermetz, Heim, Trelle, &
Tonia, 2013). The general policies required by federal laws specific professional groups needs to
report cases of suspicion of child abuse to the police and other relevant authorities. One of the
research findings by Find later suggests that effort to increase reporting is important because
teachers under report. Findlater (2014) states that reporting is affected by specific factors like
administrators’ attitude and teachers’ willingness to address sexual abuses.
It is of great importance for family, friends, and the state to put in place interventions
tailored towards individuals who have developed a drinking problem. However, the major
challenge with such interventions and several interventions in general, is that family members
and friends of the affected victim wait for so long to intervene. It is advisable for loved ones to
seek help even though they are not sure of the extent of the alcohol problem, than waiting until it


is too late and alcohol takes over the life of the individual (Findlater, 2014). Timely intervention
will go a long way to ensuring the victim records desirable outcomes from the condition.

Suggestions for Intervention and Policy Changes

The best approach for any prevention strategy is to offer preventive services before the
problem occurs. To prevent child sexual abuse means putting appropriate measures by
addressing the environmental factors and the societal norms that highly contribute to child sexual
abuse. The focus of any sexual abuse prevention strategy should use an approach that promotes
safe, healthy environments for children and also encourage good behavior an intervention that
will reduce incidents of sexual abuse significantly (Zwi et al, 2015).
There are several examples of a holistic primary prevention programs that have been
initiated to develop the community’s capacity. Since studies confirm that there are no particular
risk factors that can be used to determine if someone is likely to be a sexual offender (Mallon &
Hess, 2014). Experts suggest that there is need for combining family and parenting programs
with the school-based prevention programs to address child delinquency. Reducing child
delinquency can be helpful in reducing sexual abuse offenses. The aim of prevention programs
should strive to reduce the prevailing circumstances under which child sexual abuse takes place
by minimizing new cases of child abuse (Lipovsky & Kilpatrick, 2013). Various initiatives need
to target risky communities and neighborhoods or even age groups that have high incidences of
sexual abuse. The other suggestion is to incorporate strategies that will be designed to respond
quickly to child sexual abuse such as encouraging the victims to report immediately after the
incident (Euser et al, 2013). The child protection agencies should also have a hotline number for
children to call whenever they feel they are at risk of being abused or have already been abused.
Using this approach, it’s important to recognize that timely reporting and response can reduce


harm and repeat victimization. This process will also ensure that the offender does not continue
with the harmful behavior. However, addressing trauma is also important during this process as
one of the early intervention to reduce more harm to the victim. Addressing trauma and related
consequences of child abuse will help prevent the recurrence of the problem (Euser et al, 2013).
Counseling programs should also be put in place to aid victims suffering from low self-
esteem (Mallon & Hess, 2014). The programs should be driven towards ensuring the victims that
life goes on even after they have been abused. The counselors should use examples of known
public figures such as Oprah Winfrey who have been sexually abused before and have fought the
situation and emerged victorious. This will aid in motivating the victims significantly. Treatment
programs should be available and accessible within the community .These programs should not
just focus on treatment only but also in protecting the victim from further victimization. The
school-based program should be reinforced to teach children about developing healthy
relationship that includes sexual abuse prevention process. Sexual prevention program should
form part of the school curriculum and be taught at certain grade levels. There is also need to
mandate sexual abuse prevention education, a practical initiative that has been adopted by
several countries across the globe (Collin-Vézina, Daigneault & Hébert, 2013).
In Canada for instance, sexual abuse prevention programs have been developed for
children of different ages. For children aged 5 to 9 years old the main focus is on body
ownership and learning personal safety. This is done using games and age appropriate, none
threatening lesson. Even though several studies have revealed that school-based programs
increase child knowledge and awareness of potential abuse, the delivery approach needs to be
enhanced to reach out to other age groups including adolescents (Smallbone, Marshall, &
Wortley, 2013). Furthermore, school-based sexual prevention program curriculum does not


address the abuse by immediate family members. These are some of the gaps that can be
addressed by promoting self-safety as part of the curriculum, a strategy that entails disclosing of
abuse as early as possible (Collin-Vézina, Daigneault & Hébert, 2013). Experts suggest that a
bystander approach can form part of the sexual prevention strategy where community members
should participate in solving this problem (Furniss, 2013). A good example is one of successful
bystander approach that includes changing society norms and raising public awareness of the
problem is the “it starts with you’ initiative. This program calls for everyone including
employers, friends, neighbors, pastors and teachers to confront child sexual abuse within their
families and professions. Another successful initiative is the “stop it now program” which uses
research findings to educate the public through publication and also conducting social marketing
campaigns (America, 2012).


Preventing child sexual abuse should not be a matter of teachers and school
administration and the local authorities. Prevention involves parents and the community to create
a safe environment for children. Polices alone cannot minimize the rate of child abuse, but with
the comprehensive policies combined with appropriate intervention child sexual abuse is likely
to reduce. The important part is that the public should ensure that children’s future are more
secure through their current efforts of preventing child abuse from taking place. There is need to
come up with an effective and sustainable sexual prevention initiative that can affect the general
community’s perceptions and also cause changes in the systems that deal with children. A
comprehensive, sustainable and effective sexual prevention program must deal with children as
potential victims, and have far-reaching effects to the community where sexual abuse has not
been well addressed especially by parents and community child protection agencies. Coming up


with quality prevention strategies necessitates countering of environmental factors that are likely
to support child sexual abuses and children exploitation.



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