Child Sexual Abuse Confirmed by Forensic Examination in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

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Abstract

Child sexual abuse is a worldwide public health issue. The objective of this study was to describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of children in cases of sexual abuse confirmed by material evidence at forensic examination. Cases of children younger than 12 years examined for suspected sexual abuse at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, were reviewed retrospectively. The period evaluated was between 2005 and 2010. The inclusion criterion was the coroner’s confirmation of sexual abuse based on material evidence. The mean age of the children in whom sexual abuse was confirmed was 8.2 (SD, 2.9) years, and 208 cases were female (83.9%). In 94% of the cases, the reason for carrying out the forensic examination was a report of sexual abuse. Less than 1% of the aggressors were female. A ruptured hymen was the finding that confirmed sexual abuse in 172 cases, corresponding to 83% of cases in girls. There were 2 cases of pregnancy. Recent anal or perianal lesions were present in 35 (87.5%) of the confirmed cases involving boys. Laboratory confirmation based on the detection of spermatozoa or prostate-specific antigen occurred in only 4.2% of cases. In all these cases, sample collection was performed within 24 hours of the alleged abuse. Thus, in the majority of cases with material evidence of sexual abuse, the confirmation criteria consisted of a ruptured hymen and recent perianal lesions.

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