Social work students' perceptions of child sexual abuse
Social workers are responsible for rendering services to children and families who have experienced sexual abuse. These services are to a large degree guided by legislation and organisational policy, but the question arises whether all social workers perceive child sexual abuse in the same way. This is significant since the possibility that a social worker perceives child sexual abuse differently from legislation and existing policies, could lead to having an adverse effect on the rendering of services to children and families exposed to sexual abuse. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the perceptions of social work students regarding child sexual abuse by way of a descriptive qualitative research design. For the purposes of this study the non-probability sampling technique of purposive sampling was used to obtain participants. Fourth-year social work students at a specific higher learning institution were allowed to volunteer for this study and ten students agreed to participate. Unstructured in-depth individual interviews were conducted in order to explore their perceptions of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse). The data was coded into six main perceptions with their categories and subcategories. These perceptions were the following: (1) Child sexual abuse is caused by factors within the child’s ecological environment; (2) Description of the sexually abused child; (3) Description of the perpetrator of child sexual abuse; (4) Child sexual abuse is pervasive and can be characterised by the presence of specific aspects; (5) Child sexual abuse affects the child in specific ways; and (6) Children do not disclose sexual abuse. These results were presented in the format of an article with conclusions, recommendations as well as the limitations of the study.
- Humanities