Behind the Playground Walls: Sexual Abuse in Preschools

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Representing over 6 years of research with children reporting nonritualistic and ritualistic sexual abuse in preschool settings, BEHIND THE PLAYGROUND WALLS is a clear, comprehensive examination of the effects of reported molestation on young children and their families. Based on data gathered from the children, parents, and therapists in a comparison study, the book covers the effects on children's behavior, fears, PTSD symptoms, sexuality, achievement, school performance, and self-concept. Moreover, the ways in which the children and their families coped with reports of abuse and the factors associated with positive short- and long-term outcome are detailed. Part I of the book outlines the scope of the problem. Cases from two communities - alleged ritualistic abuse in several preschools in Manhattan Beach, California, and nonritualistic abuse in a preschool day care setting in Reno, Nevada - are described and compared with a control group of nonabused children from southern California. The background literature is reviewed, as are the methods, procedures, and limitations of the study. Chapters in Part II offer perspectives on what happened to the children and the patterns of disclosure in therapy. Part III concentrates on the aftermath of such cases, with separate chapters on the children's overall levels of distress and cognitive, emotional,interpersonal, sexual, and school-related effects. The impact of sexual abuse on the children's parents, families, and therapists is discussed in Part IV. Factors that were associated with positive outcome for the children, both in the short term and at follow-up 5 years after initial disclosure, are then covered in Part V. Rounding out the volume, Part VI presents community and research perspectives on the findings by well-known child abuse experts, and concludes with the authors' recommendations for treatment. Offering important new insights on a timely and critical topic, BEHIND THE PLAYGROUND WALLS is valuable reading

This book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book is a major contribution to our knowledge of the effects of reported sexual and ritualistic abuse of young children, as well as the impact on their families. This extensive study was one of the first in the field to take a longitudinal perspective on the aftermath of the reported abuse. As such, it contributes greatly to our understanding of the healing process for traumatized children. The authors' recommendations regarding the treatment of children and families reporting sexual abuse will have a major impact on the field.

The authors are to be commended for their ability to communicate the findings of such a monumental research project in both a scholarly and comprehensible manner. The authors' expertise as both researchers and clinicians is clearly reflected in this outstanding work.

Academics, researchers, professionals, social policy makers, and the general public alike will find this book to be comprehensive and objective. I highly recommend this book for anyone involved in the field of child abuse." --Susan J. Kelley, R.N., Ph.D., Boston College School of Nursing

"Long awaited, this outstanding volume offers a sober and sophisticated analysis of two major preschool sexual abuse cases; one of which involved allegations of ritualistic abuse. I am extremely impressed with both the research presented and the interpretations offered -- highly recommended to clinicians and researchers!" --John Briere, PhD, USC Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences Associates

"This book is the fruit of hard labor. The authors are to be commended for their longitudinal design, for testing theory in a field sometimes lacking it, for conducting the research in spite of many pragmatic difficulties, and for producing a book that is readable by laypersons but that includes enough detail about method and analysis to be useful for serious researchers.... Child abuse researchers and therapists and families of children involved in sexual abuse cases will benefit from the findings of this research." --Bette L. Bottoms, Contemporary Psychology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898625233
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/22/1993
  • Pages: 307
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Waterman, PhD, is Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Coordinator of the UCLA Psychology Clinic. In addition to numerous articles on aspects of child trauma, she is the coauthor of Sexual Abuse of Young Children and Behind the Playground Walls. She is also a practicing psychotherapist in the Los Angeles area.
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Table of Contents

Pt. I Scope of the Problem of Ritualistic and Nonritualistic Sexual Abuse in Preschools
Ch. 1 A Tale of Two Communities 3
Ch. 2 Background Literature 11
Ch. 3 Study Methods and Procedures 30
Ch. 4 Limitations of the Study 48
Pt. II Content and Process of Disclosures of Sexual Abuse in Preschools
Ch. 5 Perspectives on What Happened to the Children 55
Ch. 6 Disclosure Patterns in Psychotherapy 65
Pt. III Effects on Children
Ch. 7 Overall Level of Distress 79
Ch. 8 Cognitive and School-Related Effects 93
Ch. 9 Emotional Effects 106
Ch. 10 Effects on Sexuality 120
Ch. 11 Effects on Interpersonal Relationships 134
Ch. 12 Comparison of Effects of Reported Ritualistic and Nonritualistic Sexual Abuse 142
Pt. IV Effects on Others
Ch. 13 Impact on Parents 169
Ch. 14 Impact on Family Relationships 177
Ch. 15 Impact on Therapists 190
Pt. V Understanding the Effects: Coping Patterns and Mediators
Ch. 16 Parental Reactions and Coping Patterns 205
Ch. 17 Mediators of Effects on Children: What Enhances Optimal Functioning and Promotes Healing? 222
Ch. 18 Clinical Implications 240
Pt. VI Final Considerations
Ch. 19 Uses and Abuses of Research: Cross-Currents of Community Exploitation 261
Ch. 20 The Research Perspective 278
Ch. 21 Conclusions and Recommendations 284
References 289
Index 301
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