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Why Children Accommodate Secrets about Child Sexual Abuse

Ronald Summit, M.D., a central writer in the area of child sexual abuse, offered a five-part way for us to understand why children keep secrets about and accommodate ongoing sexual abuse. Summit’s model of understanding the secrecy and repeat victimization is the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.

When we accommodate something, we put up with, allow it to happen and often even make it happen. Children are no different. Kids accommodate our bad moods, our boring explanations, our rules and even our very bad behaviour toward them. Our partners accommodate bad behaviour from us that they would never accommodate from another person. Why?

We accommodate bad behaviour from people we love because we have a history with them and have knowledge about why they are acting bad, or, we don’t know what to do to make the behaviour cease.

Children accommodate sexual abuse because often they know the perpetrator (85% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by somebody well known to the child) and because they have no idea what to do about it. The child becomes locked into a frozen syndrome of isolation. They may be in trouble if they tell and they are in trouble if they do not tell.

Here is how Ronald Summit categorized children’s behaviour, thoughts and feelings according to his Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome:

  1. Secrecy

  2. Helplessness

  3. Entrapment and accommodation

  4. Delayed, conflicted and unconvincing disclosure

  5. Retraction

Over the next five articles, we will take a closer look at each of Summit’s accommodation categories.

In the meantime, if you are writing in the area of child protection or child abuse, consider submitting to the Carnival Against Child Abuse. The more voices that cry out against child abuse, the quicker we can keep all of our children safe. The next Carnival Against Child Abuse (May edition) will be hosted at this site. Submission information released within the next couple of days.

1 Response to "Why Children Accommodate Secrets about Child Sexual Abuse"

T Simmons said...

I agree that with the reasons why children accommodate secretes when it relates to child sexual abuse. I beleive that in order to protect our children better in this society, we as educators and socialworkers should research which population is being targeted the most and educate this population on how sexual predators operate. Alsom, I believe that we should host meetings monthly in each community to educate parents and children. At these meetings we can have individuals who will be able to search for names for parents and other caregivers of anybody they are unusre about or anyone that has been around their children frequently and they would just like to be sure of their background history. These monthly community meetings should be faciliated by either a socialworker/therapist, or police officer where the parents can also be educated on how to better protect their children from sexual predators in their communities.

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