Child abuse can take place in many different forms, physical, emotional, neglect and sexual. This essay will concentrate on sexual abuse and its effects in later life through adolescence and adulthood and whether the abuse experienced in childhood can also impact on their children and their parenting ability and whether this can be positive or negative. Childhood sexual abuse is defined as all sexual types of contact and activity upon children by adults. This extends to also include coercive sexual activity between children. The UK law states that a child under the age of 16 cannot consent to any sexual contact with adults and this is due to the law stating that until a child reaches the age of 16 they do not have the required understanding or the social position to enable them to make a free, equal and informed choice. The law also views all coercive sexual contact regardless of age or social positions of the parties involved to be seen as a breach of person’s human rights.
Sexual abuse of children can range from a one off incident to over a prolonged period of time which can sometimes last years. Sexual abuse of a child is a horrific act it ranges from an adult exposing their genitals to a child through to repeated brutal sexual torture which in extreme cases can lead to the death of a child.
Within the UK the legal age of consent is 16 however this isn’t the same in other European countries where the age of consent can vary. However even though the age of consent can be as low as 12 there is an absolute agreement that sex with a child under 12 years old is a crime and many countries view sex with a child between the ages of 13-16 by an adult as a criminal act.
A survey by Kelly, Regan and Burton in 1991 of 1,244 young people in further education found some very disturbing results. The survey found that 59% of young women and 27% of young men experienced at least one sexually intrusive incident before they reached the age of 18. 21% of young...