The pathway from being sexually abused as a child to bullying in school, and the intentions of
suicide and self-harm in adulthood.
Child Sexual Abuse
Aim and Introduction
Sexual abuse in childhood does not only affect the victim at that tender age but proceeds to
adulthood. This problem has several impacts on the young one’s life, some of these effects may
include; trauma, mistrust and psychological problems. This pathway will show that the sexually
abused child may be bullied by their peers during adolescent thus resulting in attempts at self-
harm or suicide in adulthood.
Sexual abuse during childhood is common all over the world. Brooker, Cawson, Graham and
Wattam (2001) say that many children undergo the abuse every single day; people report some
of the cases while some are not thus making it difficult to know the right number of children who
suffer the same. According to a report in America, 1 out of 7 girls is abused before the age of
eighteen years while 1 out of 25 boys is abused sexually before reaching the same age (Brooker
A lot has been done by different states to curb this problem, but this fails because the
perpetrators are found to be people closely related to the victims. The family members fail to
Intentions of suicide and
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 2
report the cases for fear of defamation and breaking of family ties (Brooker et.al, 2001). In some
cases, perpetrators are the biological parents or even guardians who should be protecting the
children. Brooker et.al (2001) adds that such incidences may go unnoticed since the child may
fear to report their parents. Other occurrences may happen between the child and the peers which
may also be difficult to handle. Child sexual abuse may also result in bullying in adolescence and
self-harm in adulthood. There are ways these problems can be prevented. Wortley and
Smallbone (2013) say that the best way to help curb this problem is through educational
Current approaches to policy and practice and/or interventions
Responses are taken depending on the effect of the offence on the victim. According to Wortley
and Smallbone (2013), educational approach to child sexual abuse is more efficient compared to
therapeutic approach on children. The educational-advocacy model influence prevention
programs that focus on the current victims. Wortley et.al (2013) allege that educating the
community about sexual abuse can also help prevent the problem since they will start
condemning the offenders.
The knowledge of sexual abuse can be of much benefit to the children as one would not risk
being in secluded places where they are likely to be abused (Wortley et.al, 2013). Through
education, they also learn how to protect themselves from the offenders and how to escape from
such situations. Wortley et.al (2013) says that the child will also feel free to speak out if at all he/
she has ever undergone such an ordeal. Talking about such incidences will help the authority get
Ways of helping the perpetrators if at all they have psychological problems.
The schools or parents should conduct a thorough background check on everybody before being
hired to work in schools or at home (Wortley et.al, 2013). Background check up helps an
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 3
institution to find out more about the person they want to hire. By confirming the information
given by the individual and calling the referees provided one can find out more about the
employee’s past. This screening is necessary as it eliminates any probability of hiring someone
who can sexually abuse the children. Wortley et.al (2013) say that many cases have been
reported of staffs either at home or school abusing the children, but these reports reach the
authority late as the victims always fail to report the offenders for fear of being harmed or even
Parents should be keen on their children and should know where their children visit, the people
who are there. Some parents’ ignorance is the cause of sexual abuse among some kids as some do
not bother of their children’s whereabouts and the people they interact with in their daily lives.
The parents should create time for their children as this will make the child feel free to talk to the
parent if anything arises. Speaking to the parent will enable the child report to the parent of any
sexual abuse case they undergo (Friedman et.al, 2011).
Proper education should be conducted to help the victims and those who have not gone through
the same ordeal to understand the effects. The victim’s peers and should be urged to support them
and avoid stigmatizing them as this can have an adverse impact on the victims. Friedman et.al
(2011) asserts that they should also be made aware that the ordeal was not the victim’s fault and
that anyone can go through the same. Educating all the peers will help prevent any possible
bullying among them hence the good relationship between the victim and the peers. Action
should be taken on anyone caught bullying the victim as this will serve as an example to those
who have the intention of doing the same (Friedman et.al, 2011).
Collier et.al (2013) claim that since there is a connection between the sexual abuse in childhood,
bullying and tendency of causing self-harm in adulthood the family members should look for
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 4
ways of helping any adult showing signs of self-harm or suicide. There are programs that are set
to help such people get out of their problems. These people always get professional help from
psychologists who counsel them to make them accept their situations and live a normal life
(Collier et.al, 2013).
Link 1: Sexual abuse in childhood and bullying in adolescence
Children who are victims of sexual assault may not interact with the others well thus making the
peers pick on them. They may be targeted by the bullies who tend to aim at those who are
isolated. Their isolation may be caused by the fact that they feel worthless because of what
happened to them. Segmund Freud’s analytic theory states that when one cannot have a
relationship with others they become isolated. This is the stage of intimacy versus isolation.
Turner et.al (2011) says that the victims may also be bullied because of their failure to have
relationships just like their peers of the same age. They may decline to get into such relationships
for fear of undergoing what they went through as children or for fear of being dumped by the
girlfriend/ boyfriend if they come to know of their past(Turner et.al 2011).
Espelage (2000) says that the bullies may physically harm the victims by molesting them for
failing to accept their advances sexually ref. Espelage (2000) adds that the act of bullying may
make them feel more frustrated thus leading to depression and anxiety. The bullies may also try
to tarnish the names of the victims of sexual assault, and this can result to truancy as the victim
may refuse to attend school for fear of being name called. Failure to go to school may also
negatively affect their performance in school. Bullying can have a permanent effect on the victim
which can have an impact on them even in adulthood (Espelage, 2000). These individuals may
fail to have a normal relationship with other people in the future. According to Wellman (2014)
the theory of mind states that one tend to think that others think the same way they think and this
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 5
explains why the victims always isolate themselves from others. They tend to believe that
everyone around them are offenders who may cause harm to them.
Link 2: Bullying and intentions of suicide or self-harm.
Everyone seeks employment at a certain age in life; this is because they need to earn a living and
to socialize with others outside their homes and to make a meaning out of their lives (Drydakis,
2013). The survivors of childhood sexual abuse and those that may have gone through bullying
in their adolescent may find it difficult to go out to seek employment (Tippett & Wolke, 2014).
The experience they had during adolescence may still haunt them thus making them fear going
where people are (Drydakis, 2014). By refusing to associate with others, the individuals may feel
frustrated and resort to self-harm or even suicide (Drydakis, 2014)ref. Isolation can lead to
internal strain in someone and this pressure may worsen thus making one to resort to self-harm.
Bullying of the victims of sexual abuse in childhood can make them hate themselves and the
lives they are living (Drydakis, 2014). Some may start isolating themselves thus resulting in
depression and anxiety; they can develop strategies that they believe can help in reducing the
psychological tension associated with such effects (Collier, 2014).The survivors may feel
worthless and unwanted in the society because of what they underwent during the adolescent. Le
Vasseur et.al (2013) say that bullying may make them feel as if they were the ones responsible
for such occurrences to happen to them thus resulting to them causing self-harm or attempting
suicide. This feeling comes mostly because of name calling and insults one gets from others.
There are those who feel so because they fail to comprehend why they were the ones who were
abused and not their friends or peers.
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 6
Smallbone et al (2013) say that those who are sexually abused during childhood and undergo
bullying in adolescent always have a tendency of causing self-harm in adulthood. They describe
self- harm as a deliberate body injury on one’s self. They may cause harm to themselves
repetitively by using different things to do this. Some people may burn their skins, cut their limbs
or hit their heads against objects. Henry et.al (2014) says that these self- injuries are common
among adults who had been victims of sexual abuse in childhood. Moskowitz et.al (2013) alleges
that the survivors think that self-harm is a way of reducing the psychological tension linked with
the feeling that the survivors of severe sexual abuse have. This method may only relieve the
survivor for a short time, but it will still lead to further injury to one’s self (Moskowitz et.al,
Some of the survivors of child sexual abuse may try to avoid recalling such ordeals (Moskowitz
et.al, 2013). They may attempt suicide as an avoidance strategy; this is a way they can try to
escape from depression or hopelessness. Henry et.al (2014) say that, the adults who are survivors
of child sexual abuse are most likely to portray suicidal tendency compared to those who had not
gone through the same. The victims always feel that by committing suicide they will overcome
their problem, but this is not the solution to their problem (Le Vasseur, et.al, 2013).This is
supported by the theory of Edwin Shneidman, which states that most cases of suicide occur due
to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Summary of pathway analysis
From these studies, it is evident that sexual abuse in childhood has a long-term negative impact
on the victims and the survivors. As can be seen, it can lead to bullying in adolescent which
result in truancy and poor performance in school due to depression. The depression further
affects an individual in adulthood thus leading to self-injury or even suicide attempts (Le
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 7
Vasseur et.al, 2013). It is important to take actions before such actions go further to impact an
individual’s life to the extent of trying to take one’s life.
Evaluation of current policy, interventions &Suggestions for intervention and/or policy
Measures should be taken to reduce the risk of sexual abuse on children. Prevention of such
occurrences is the most important strategy to fighting such acts (Gatter, 2006). Individuals
involved with the kids should look for ways of putting a stop to sexual molestation among the
Schools should have educational programs that teach the children on the means of keeping
themselves safe from possible offenders. The instructors should teach the children the possible
places that they are likely to get assaulted. They ought to be encouraged to avoid walking in
lonely places without company.
They should also be taught not to allow people to touch them inappropriately (Gatter, 2006).
They should know which parts of their bodies are considered private that should not be touched.
There should be an open program where the victims can talk about their ordeals without fear.
They should be assured of security and should not fear the perpetrators. They should be
encouraged to report the offenders without any fear. Many states have toll free numbers where
one can call to report such cases of child abuse.
The parents should also have talks with their children as this will make it easier for the child to
report any case of sexual abuse (Gatter, 2006). They should not leave everything to the teachers
but be on the forefront to protect their children against such vices. They ought to have a
background check on those they hire as domestic workers in their home as many cases of sexual
assault reported have the employees as the offenders (Gatter, 2006) ref. The children should also
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 8
know that it is against the law to commit incest since some older siblings always take advantage
of their younger ones and assault them sexually (Gatter, 2006). The government should put in
place institutions where the victims can be taken for therapy and can also meet people with the
same problems to make them understand that they are not the only ones undergoing the same
(Gatter, 2006). Through this intervention, the victims will gain self-esteem as they will learn that
there are those going through what they are also undergoing. Those who have been to such
institutions always confess to having found help (LeVasseur et al, 2013).
Sexual abuse is an ordeal that may leave an individual with the scar forever in their lifetime. As
reported in this case study it may lead to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. The victims of
such acts always end up being bullied by their peers in their adolescent stage thus resulting in
poor performance in school and worst cases can lead to dropping out of school. The society
should take it upon them to reduce the occurrence of such behavior. The police do the hard work
of arresting the offenders, but they cannot do this alone unless they get assistance from other
people involved with child care. Other responsible individuals should not leave all the work to
the law reinforces, but everyone should take the action of doing everything possible to reduce
cases of sexual abuse in childhood. The parents, schools and the police should come together to
achieve this. Prevention and early intervention will help minimize cases of such vice.
Section Max Grade Grade
Background & Aim
Succinct overview of topic, describing scope of the
problem and statement of the purpose of the
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Logical justification of link 1 (including adequate
use of theory/empirical literature)
Logical justification of link 2 (including adequate
use of theory/empirical literature)
Current policy, practice, interventions
Review of current policy/practice or interventions /5 1
Evaluation of current policy/practice in light of
your pathways analysis
Suggestions for improving policy/practice in light
of your pathways analysis
Summarise the important aspects of the report,
linking the major components
Structure and flow /1 0.5
Spelling and grammar /1 0.25
Clarity of expression /1 0.25
Referencing /2 1
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 10
TOTAL /50 20
FINAL PERCENTAGE 40% F
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 11
Brooker, S., Cawson, P., Graham, K., & Wattam, C. (2001). The prevalence of child abuse and
neglect: A survey of young people. International Journal of Market Research, 43(3),