Guidelines for social workers regarding the first interview with the sexually abused child
Mogole, Josephine Mamankoe
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Child sexual abuse is more prevalent than can be expected. It is in one way damaging and the trauma does not end when the abuse stops. The problem rarely occurs in isolation and frequently interacts with other aspects of a child's family and social environment, as a result placing a heavier burden of care and support on social workers and families. The involvement of skilled social workers who can react responsively and professionally to victims in their initial assessment is important because the assessment of sexually abused children needs to be dealt with discretely. Social workers use different approaches for intervention, which results in different ways of understanding and ineffective service. Developing reader-friendly and informative guidelines which motivate effective service delivery can assist in lessening the trauma on the victims and enable them to work towards a healthy lifestyle. An understanding of the techniques and the intervention strategies social workers apply for assessment, particularly for the initial assessment, should be an ongoing area of research. There have been few systematic attempts to explore the importance of the initial assessment of sexually abused children; consequently very little data is available. In this regard, a North West-based study (Madibeng Municipality), which was a quantitative study, was conducted. The aim of the study was to develop guidelines for social workers to have a common approach in their initial assessment of sexually abused children. A self-administered questionnaire based on the expected intervention procedures and roles was developed with a view of confirming the allegations and giving future direction the profession needs to consider, given the local context. From the research it was evident that the scope for such intervention did exist and the imperative thereof was rooted in the general knowledge and skills of social workers in working with sexually abused children in general, and their specific role in the initial assessment. Guidelines for assessment of sexually abused children were formulated, addressing the above-mentioned themes. The information may be of use to professionals involved with sexually abused children so that victims can be effectively assessed after such painful events.
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