Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 579–589

Sexual Abuse in the Preschool Years: Blending Ideas from Object Relations Theory, Ego Psychology, and Biology



This paper uses concepts from relational psychodynamic theories and findings from neurobiology to conceptualize a young child’s experience of sexual abuse. Selected developmental tasks are discussed using an integrated theoretical framework. Literature which highlights the importance of the child’s environment is reviewed. A case of a sexually abused 5-year-old girl demonstrates consequences of sexual abuse using ideas from psychodynamic theories and neurobiology. It is recommended that social work practitioners expand on the biology domain when conducting a bio-psycho-social assessment. Social work students may benefit from additional content on biology in social work curricula.


Child sexual abuse Preschoolers Development 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Work DepartmentBridgewater State CollegeBridgewaterUSA

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