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Keywords:

  • child sexual abuse;
  • child sexual behaviour

Abstract

Objective The purpose of the study was to examine caregiver understanding of the impact of child sexual abuse and the management of abused children in residential treatment.

Methods A purposive sample of 20 registered nurses and child care workers were interviewed about their experiences working in residential treatment and their knowledge about child development and child sexual abuse and its application to practice. Data from interviews and field notes were analysed using dimensional analysis.

Findings Caregivers had limited knowledge of the sequelae of child sexual abuse. Developmentally appropriate behaviour of sexually abused children, as well as behavioural manifestations of child sexual abuse, were often misinterpreted and mismanaged.

Conclusion Residential care of sexually abused children should be based on sound developmental principles and caregiver sensitivity.