Background: The impact of sexual abuse on the physical health of children and adults is well recognized and discussed, but the psychological consequences have only recently become a topic of research. While other traumatic experiences of childhood are well studied, general psychological effects particularly the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among sexually abused children in Kenya requires investigation. Study objectives: This study sought to establish the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among sexually abused children attended to at the GOAL Kenya Programme and also determine the sexual abuse patterns and risk factors while describing their social demographic profiles. Design of the study: This was a cross sectional descriptive study. Setting: GOAL Kenya Children's Program in Nairobi - A rescue centre for abused and neglected children. Subjects: Children and adolescents between the ages of 8 - 17 years rescued from sexual abuse and were receiving psychological and medical support at the centre. Sampling and methods: A total of 122 based on the predetermined total number of sexually abused children at the GOAL Rescue Centre were purposefully sampled for the study. Research instruments. Three research instruments were used: A socio demographic profile designed by the researcher, the Sexual Abuse Profile by Conte & Berliner (1984) and the Children Impact of Traumatic Events Scale - Revised by Wolfe et al (1991) Results: All the 128 children studied presented with post-traumatic stress disorder. 33 children had moderate PTSD, 87 children had severe PTSD. Adolescent females (65%) were more vulnerable than their male counterparts (0%). The occurrence of PTSD symptoms between the 2 age groups was not statistically significant. Majority of the children were abused by people they know 24.2% being people with parental responsibility. The occurrence of PTSD symptoms was related with child's relationship with perpetrator with statistical significance in intrusive thoughts p = 0.000 and self-blame and guilt p = 0.002. First borns (50%) were found to be more vulnerable to abuse than children in other birth orders. Sexual abuse mainly took the form of penetration (82%). The occurrence of PTSD symptoms was not related to the null hypothesis p = 0.384 therefore the Alternative Hypothesis that sexually abused children and adolescents develop PTSD is therefore accepted. Conclusion: This dissertation studied Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: - one of the different types of post-traumatic responses in order to-help-alleviate the long term negative impacts of the abuse. The study concluded that sexually abused children are at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
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