THE OTHER HALF OF THE STORY: Children With Sexual Behavior Problems

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Child abuse has reached epidemic proportions in America. Rather than invoking health promotion strategies to protect children, the social priority appears to be extreme punishment of adult sex offenders. Although incarceration of the most severely entrenched adult sex offenders is a necessary element of a comprehensive prevention strategy, it is highly questionable whether it should receive the current emphasis. In developing prevention strategies, it may be important to note that nearly 40% of all child sexual abuse is performed by youth less than 20 years old, with 6- to 12-year-old children being the source of 13–18% of all substantiated child sexual maltreatment. Despite these findings, children and adolescents have received remarkably little attention in the research and clinical literature, and existing social policy has impeded an effective response.

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