Health and Social Care Paper on Effects of Child Sexual Abuse

Published: 2021-07-26
1757 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Case study
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The neurobiological factors

Children who experience sexual abuse, such as Emma, experience various factors that contribute to the change in their behavior. The trauma associated with the abuse is viewed to present plenty of stress on a child which may affect the development of the brain. Genes contribute in the development of the brain whereby they integrate actively with the life experiences of a child (Anderson, 2012). Therefore, during the assessment, in regards to the neurobiological factors, the childs brain development has to be put into perspective to determine the type of treatment that should be provided. According to Emmas case, she is behind academically and she has difficulty staying on task and following directions. This might indicate that Emma is experiencing neuropsychological challenges particularly on the consecutive loss of cognitive skills. It is imperative to know that cognitive skills are mental abilities such as reasoning and perception that are necessary to acquire knowledge and to process information (Anderson, 2012). It determines how we learn best, and is the key to learning. Emmas dismal performance in school is probably due to the fact she has difficulties learning. In some cases, a child may experience a psychiatric disorder called oppositional defiant disorder. This condition usually lasts for about six months whereby the child exhibits a variety of interesting characteristics such as: often blames others for his or her mistakes, is often resentful and angry, always argues with adults, often loses temper and often deliberately annoys people (Matthys & Lochman, 2009). The cause of this condition is believed to be biological and could be related to neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain. Other studies claim that decreased cortisol, a hormone produced by adrenal cortex during the period of stress is also another biological causative factor. Researchers explain that a genetic component is also involved in the development of the oppositional defiant disorder. They argue that there are some instances where a family history of behavioral disorder affects the children (Matthys & Lochman, 2009).

The psychological factors

The psychological factors that might be considered during assessment include posttraumatic stress disorder and emotional problems such as fear, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, depression and hostility (Anderson, 2012). According to the case, Emma is viewed to exhibit an impulsive and an oppositional behavior such as talking back, yelling, frequent tantrums and throwing things when angry. The following habits highly attenuate with the psychological context whereby Emma possibly uses them as defense mechanisms.

The developmental factors

The developmental factors to consider in assessing the child include her emotional conduct, her interaction or communication on the basis of language skills in addition to her overall physical development (Anderson, 2012). To determine these factors, we will have to conduct a full evaluation of Emmas social experiences, her childhood history, and other growth related components.

The social factors

The social factors to consider include the relationship between the child and her parents, the relationship between the child and her peers and the relationship between the child and other adults who are not members of her family (Anderson, 2012). According to the case study, Emma is a victim of sexual abuse and that her parents are in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle. Most of the victims of the child of sexual abuse often have impulsive, oppositional, and inattentive behaviors and they also experience general anxiety. The fact that Emmas parents are the midst of a bitter divorce and a custody battle, means that Emmas environment at home may have likely contributed to the behavior change. For our better understanding, let us think of the atmosphere around two couples who are about to divorce. There are likely to be disagreements, fights and other awkward activities taking place between them. Studies show that inappropriate parenting or dysfunctional family relationships have huge impacts on children. This is because of childrens emotional and physical status, as well as their cognitive and social development, largely depends on their family dynamics (Davidson, 2013). In fact, the rising cases of behavioral problems among children could suggest the degree of challenges families are facing to cope with stresses they are experiencing.

Apply at least 3 dynamic systems theory concepts/terms that are helpful in explaining the presenting issues in the case. Place each concept in bold-face type.

According to the dynamics systems theory, whose proponent was Ludwig von Bertalany, living systems tend to be open systems whereby they maintain themselves through the exchange of materials which are present in the surroundings (Unit 4). Three concepts from the theory that apply to Emmas case include; social systems are viewed as interdependent in addition to being inter-relational; the dependency and relationship in a system can be either maladaptive or adaptive, and that systems use the adaptive process regarding homeostasis for both survival and self-conservation. The three concepts fall under the umbrella of an individual in an environment (Unit 4). In our case, Emma is the individual in the environment who expects to be surrounded by positive aspects that contribute to her growth and development.

Social systems are viewed as interdependent in addition to being inter-relational

On social systems being viewed as interdependent and inter-relational, it can be perceived the relationship between Emma and her parents was affected with the incidence (Unit 4). In other words, what happened to Emma also affected her family and other individuals in her environment. According to the case study, Emma and her mother engaged in psychotherapy after the mother became aware of her daughters situation. The father also engaged in the family sessions but irregularly. The fathers disbelief is viewed to have also affected the relationship between him and Emmas mother whereby the mother sought for spiritual and emotional support from her pastor. The concept can also be perceived to apply in the treatment process whereby, for Emma to recover, the social system has to be very supportive.

The dependency and relationship in a system can be either maladaptive or adaptive

On the dependency and relationship in a system being either maladaptive or adaptive, the view is that the dependency of an individual to a system influences the type of behavior exhibited by an individual (Unit 4). In our case, possibly Emma felt insecure or rather unprotected and that is why she chose to engage in behavior such as regular tantrums, baby-like behavior, yelling, throwing things, being frustrated and talking back.

Systems use the adaptive process regarding homeostasis for both survival and self-conservation

On systems using the adaptive process regarding homeostasis for both survival and self-conservation, the behavior exhibited by Emma can also be viewed as the adaptive mechanisms that Emma developed as ways of handling her situations or rather her defense mechanisms. For an individual who is unaware of Emmas situation, the possible conclusion might be that Emma had behavioral issues.

Apply at least 3 concepts/terms from the ecological perspective that are helpful in explaining the presenting issues in the case. Place each concept in bold-face type

Ecological perspective focuses on integrating the knowledge of the physical environment into the existing social and political structure to reveal the challenges of the current system (Shaw, 2009). There are a lot of general views that can be drawn from the ecological perspective. However, in Emmas case, only three concepts from the ecological perspective can be associated.

Social Environment

The first concept is the social environment which refers to the circumstances and the conditions that encompass people. It includes the natural environment that society or rather the surrounding community provides. A healthy social environment ensures that the needs of each individual are met and that every person is comfortable in his or her settings. In the case study, the social environment refers to the surrounding conditions that Emma is experiencing both at home and in school. If indeed there are a lot of conflicts and fights, there are high chances that Emma has been greatly affected by them.


The second concept entails the transactions. The transactions refer to peoples interactions and communication with others in their respective environments. Emma is easily agitated when playing or working with classmates, and hence the manner in which she interacts with her classmates after her experience (Davidson, 2013). Understanding the reason behind this agitation is critical for us to evaluate the cause of behavior change in Emma. Moreover, according to the case study, Emma at times throws tantrums, yells or talks back to her parents in addition to exhibiting baby-like behavior. Her change in behavior shows that there is a problem in the communication process between Emma and her parents (Davidson, 2013). Furthermore, the relationship between her parents does not provide an environment where Emma can adequately express herself. Her mother appears to be more concerned with her situation when compared to her father.

Human Ecology Perspective

The third concept is the human ecology perspective. The perspective refers to how the environment impacts the quality of life, interaction and the human development. In this case, the environment has likely caused a lot of impacts on Emmas behavior. We are told that Emma is pleasant and kind, this means that the behavioral problems that she is facing are likely to be motivated by something else. It maybe the environment, biological or psychological factors (Davidson, 2013).

Discuss at least 1 strength and 1 limitation of each of the theories (ie, dynamic systems and ecological) for understanding this particular case. Avoid a general discussion of strengths and weaknesses

Applying an ecological perspective is the process of assessing individuals, cultures, families, and community and attempting to intervene upon weaknesses and strengths in the transactional processes between these systems (Robertson & Klir, 2013). One of the main advantages of ecological perspective theories is that it enables us to determine how systems operate and their consequent interactions with other systems, hence providing a framework for maintaining an individual behavior. The associated view is that it deals with people regarding their environment other than isolation. However, one of the important disadvantages of ecological perspective is that it is hard to obtain controlled conditions in a field situation during experimentation (Robertson & Klir, 2013). For example, in this case, it is hard to understand the environmental conditions Emma was facing at home or even at school.

One of the key advantages of systems theory is that it allows us to think of families as systems with all the dynamics (Robertson & Klir, 2013). Systems theory enables professionals to initiate change by dealing with the wider system instead of dealing with one individual. A common disadvantage of systems theory is that entities are constantly evolving, making it difficult at times to evaluate a particular system as the unit after a certain period (Robertson & Klir, 2013). For instance, should Emmas parents divorce, it will be difficult to evaluate them...

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