Psychological Studies

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 318–325 | Cite as

Child Sexual Abuse in India: Current Issues and Research

  • David K. Carson
  • Jennifer M. Foster
  • Nishi Tripathi
Review Article


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a serious and widespread problem in India as it is in many parts of the world today. The trauma associated with sexual abuse can contribute to arrested development, as well as a host of psychological and emotional disorders, that some children and adolescents may never overcome. When sexual abuse goes unreported and children are not given the protective and therapeutic assistance they need, they are left to suffer in silence. This article discusses the nature and incidence of the sexual abuse of minors in India and presents an overview of research findings to date. Socio-cultural and familial risk factors involved in CSA are discussed. Common symptoms and disorders associated with sexual abuse are outlined. Finally, some implications for counselors working with children in India who have been sexually abused are highlighted.


Child sexual abuse India Research, prevention Intervention 


  1. Anderson, K. M., & Hiersteiner, C. (2008). Recovering from childhood sexual abuse: is a “Storybook ending” possible? American Journal of Family Therapy, 36(5), 413–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baradha, G. (2006). Contemporary family problems. In A. Chowdhury, D. K. Carson, & C. K. Carson (Eds.), Family life education in India: Perspectives, challenges, and applications (pp. 180–212). Jaipur: Rawat Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Briere, J. & Lanktree, C. (2008). Integrative Treatment of Complex Trauma for Adolescents (ITCT-A): A Guide for the Treatment of Multiply-Traumatized Youth. Retrieved from
  4. Briere, J., & Scott, C. (2006). Principles of trauma therapy: A guide to symptoms, evaluation, and treatment. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Chatterjee, P., Chakraborty, T., Srivastava, N., & Deb, S. (2006). Short and long-term problems faced by trafficked children: a qualitative study. Social Science International, 22(1), 167–182.Google Scholar
  6. Chawla, S. (2004). India. In K. Malley-Morrison (Ed.), International perspectives on family violence and abuse: A cognitive ecological approach (pp. 265–281). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Pub.Google Scholar
  7. Choudhury, R. (2006). Understanding family life in India. In A. Chowdhury, D. K. Carson, & C. K. Carson (Eds.), Family life education in India: Perspectives, challenges, and applications (pp. 31–57). Jaipur: Rawat Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Cicchetti, D., & Toth, S. L. (2006). Building bridges and crossing them: translational research in developmental psychopathology. Developmental Psychopathology, 18, 619–622.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, J. A., & Mannarino, A. P. (2008). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children and parents. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 13(4), 158–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crenshaw, D. A., & Hardy, K. V. (2007). The crucial role of empathy in breaking the silence of traumatized children in play therapy. International Journal of Play Therapy, 16(2), 160–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crossen-Tower, C. (2009). Understanding child abuse and neglect (8th ed.). New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  12. Davidson, G., Shannon, C., Mulholland, C., & Campbell, J. (2009). A longitudinal study of the effects of childhood trauma on symptoms and functioning of people with severe mental health problems. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 10(1), 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deb, S. (2002). Child sexual abuse: an overview with special reference to role of Police. Social Defense, 53(154), 44–58.Google Scholar
  14. Deb, S. (2005). Child abuse and neglect: the Indian scenario. Social Science International, 21(1), 3–19.Google Scholar
  15. Deb, S. (2006). Children in agony. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  16. Deb, S. (2009). Child protection: scenario in India. International Journal of Child Health and Human Development, 2(3), 339–348.Google Scholar
  17. Deb, S., & Mukherjee, A. (2009). Impact of sexual abuse on mental health of children. New Delhi: Concept Pub.Google Scholar
  18. Deb, S., & Mukherjee, A. (2011). Background and adjustment capacity of sexually abused girls and their perceptions on intervention. Child Abuse Review, 20(3), 213–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deb, S., & Sen, P. (2005). A study on psychological trauma of young trafficked women. 6th Asian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Singapore, November 16–18, 2005.Google Scholar
  20. Deb, S., & Walsh, K. (2012). Impact of physical, psychological, and sexual violence on social adjustment of school children in India. School Psychology International, 33(4), 391–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Finkelhor, D. (2008). Childhood victimization: Violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of young people. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Foster, J. M. (2011). An analysis of trauma narratives: Perceptions of children on the experience of childhood sexual abuse (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from
  23. Gil, E. (2006). Helping abused and traumatized children: Integrating directive and non-directive approaches. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Goldfinch, M. (2009). ‘Putting humpty together again’: working with parents to help children who have experienced early trauma. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 30(4), 284–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goodman, G. S., Quas, J. A., & Ogle, C. M. (2010). Child maltreatment and memory. Annual Review of Psychology, 61(1), 325–351.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goodyear-Brown, P. (Ed.). (2011). Handbook of child sexual abuse: Identification, assessment, and treatment. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Iravani, M. R. (2011). Child abuse in India. Asian Social Science, 7(3), 150–153.Google Scholar
  28. Kacker, L., & Kumar, P. (2008). Child abuse in India. In D. Daro (Ed.), World perspectives on child abuse: 8th ed. (pp. 98–100). Chicago: International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).Google Scholar
  29. Kaminer, D. (2006). Healing processes in trauma narratives: a review. South African Journal of Psychology, 36(3), 481–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klempner, M. (2000). Navigating life review interviews with survivors of trauma. Oral History Review, 27(2), 67.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lanktree, C., & Briere, J. (2008). Integrative Treatment of Complex Trauma for Children (ITCT-C): A Guide for the Treatment of Multiply-Traumatized Children Aged Eight to Twelve Years. Retrieved from
  32. McPherson, P., Scribano, P., & Stevens, J. (2012). Barriers to successful treatment completion in child sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(1), 23–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Miller, B. J., Cardona, J. R. P., & Hardin, M. (2007). The use of narrative therapy and internal family systems with survivors of child sexual abuse: examining issues related to loss and oppression. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 18(4), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) (2005-2006). Mumbai: International Institute of Population Sciences.Google Scholar
  35. Ogawa, Y. (2004). Childhood trauma and play therapy intervention for traumatized children. Journal of Professional Counseling: Practice, Theory, & Research, 32(1), 19–29.Google Scholar
  36. Oz, S. (2005). The “wall of fear”: the bridge between the traumatic event and trauma resolution therapy for childhood sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 14(3), 23–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pagare, D. (2003). A study of physical and sexual abuse and behavioural problems amongst boys from an observation home in Delhi. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation in Community Medicine, University of Delhi.Google Scholar
  38. Patnaik, M. M. (2007). Family violence: Impact on family life. In D. K. Carson, C. K. Carson, & A. Chowdhury (Eds.), Indian families at the crossroads: Preparing families for the new millennium (pp. 35–50). New Delhi: Gyan Pub. House.Google Scholar
  39. Priyabadini, S. (2007). Child abuse in Indian families. In D. K. Carson, C. K. Carson, & A. Chowdhury (Eds.), Indian families at the crossroads: Preparing families for the new millennium (pp. 107–121). New Delhi: Gyan Pub. House.Google Scholar
  40. Sahay, S. (2010). Compelled subjugation and forced silence: sexually abused girls and their family members: a case of Western Madhya Pradesh (India). International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 15(4), 343–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tomlinson, P. (2008). Assessing the needs of traumatized children to improve outcomes. Journal of Social Work Practice, 22(3), 359–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tuval-Mashiach, R., Freedman, S., Bargai, N., Boker, R., Hadar, H., & Shalev, A. Y. (2004). Coping with trauma: narrative and cognitive perspectives. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 67(3), 280–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. India Country Report on Violence Against Children (2005). Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.Google Scholar
  44. Virani, P. (2000). Bitter chocolate: Child sexual abuse in India. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  45. Wright, M. O., Crawford, E., & Sebastian, K. (2007). Positive resolution of childhood sexual abuse experiences: the role of coping, benefit-finding and meaning-making. Journal of Family Violence, 22(7), 597–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David K. Carson
    • 1
  • Jennifer M. Foster
    • 2
  • Nishi Tripathi
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Counseling PsychologyPalm Beach Atlantic UniversityOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counselor Education and Counseling PsychologyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologySam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and SciencesAllahabadIndia

Personalised recommendations