cover image Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

Edward L. Rowan, . . Univ. Press of Mississippi, $30 (102pp) ISBN 978-1-57806-807-4

Retired psychiatrist Rowan tackles both sides of society's sexual abuse problem: the victim and the offender. His approach may best benefit the therapeutic community; victims of child sexual abuse or their parents may find some topics difficult. For example, Rowan discusses a 1998 article by researchers at Temple University that concludes "while child sexual abuse was morally and legally wrong and obviously devastating to some individuals, it was not inherently and inevitably harmful." The group proposed that child sexual abuse be called "adult-child sex" unless problems result. On the other hand, Rowan does an excellent job of detailing potentially profound and lasting changes in survivors' ability to regulate emotion, and in cognition and memory. He also addresses treatment approaches for victims, including medication; standard psychotherapy; cognitive, behavioral and exposure-based therapies; and the controversy surrounding recovered memory therapy. One chapter covers treating the offender, ending with the discouraging news that treatment doesn't seem to decrease the rate of recidivism. Prevention is an equally elusive goal, with Rowan urging parents to educate kids on the danger of sexual abuse, highlighting the new prevention programs of the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts. (Feb.)