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Journal Issue: Sexual Abuse of Children Volume 4 Number 2 Summer/Fall 1994

Current Information on the Scope and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse
David Finkelhor

Sexual Abuse of Boys

Boys are abused at one-third to one-half the rate of girls, according to adult retrospective studies. However, their abuse, particularly cases involving older boys, is less likely to come to professional attention: cases involving boys constitute only about 20% of cases reported to child protection.64

A major difference between boy victims and girl victims is that boys are less likely to be abused within the family. And as indicated earlier, boys are more likely to be abused by females than are girls.

The clinical literature observes that boys are more likely than girls to act out in aggressive and antisocial ways as a result of abuse.65 Boys are also seen as having more concerns about gender role and sexual orientation because both victimization in general and homosexual victimization in particular are so stigmatizing to males.66 Although these observations may be accurate, outcome studies have actually had difficulty demonstrating consistent differences in symptomatology between abused boys and girls or men and women.67 It would appear, based on current research, that there are more similarities than differences in the impact of abuse. One notable exception concerns the apparent greater likelihood that men who were sexually abused as children will express some sexual interest in children.66,68 This does seem to confirm another clinical perception that abused boys, more often than girls, are at increased risk to become perpetrators.