Purpose of review
In this review, we examine the most recent literature on adolescent sexual assault, and summarize new findings regarding prevalence, risk factors, sequelae, cultural factors, genital injury, legal issues and practice implications.
Child and adolescent sexual-assault victims are at risk for a range of negative outcomes, including comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive episode, comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, eating disorders, delinquency, and revictimization. Cultural factors and severity levels of trauma may serve as risk factors to such outcomes in adolescent sexual-assault victims. Compared with adults, adolescent sexual-assault victims have a greater frequency of rape-related anogenital injuries, but data on healing of injuries in this population are lacking. Factors related to a child sexual-assault victim's demeanor and intelligence can influence the perceived credibility of the child as a witness to the abuse.
Recent studies investigating prevalence, risk factors, and sequelae of child and adolescent sexual assault highlight the need for educational programs and primary prevention interventions to educate pre-pubescent children and adolescents about sexuality, including sexual assault. In addition, further research is warranted in the area of statutory rape reporting to determine its effects on adolescent health-service-seeking behaviors and outcomes. Although most adolescent sexual assault victims do not seek acute post-rape medical care, forensic nurse examiners are often the first clinicians to encounter the adolescent sexual assault victim. Nursing protocols that standardize evidence collection as well as psychological support are important in the comprehensive care of these traumatized teens.