A Survey of Sexual abuse Prevalence in an Inner City Hospital

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A Survey of Sexual abuse Prevalence in an Inner City Hospital

Author names: Natasha Jouk MD, Beatrice Egboh MD, Roy Vega MD

Affiliations: BronxCare Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Bronx NY 10457


According to the CDC, in the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives. Every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted, and every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Under-reporting is likely very high due to the sensitive nature of the issue despite various ongoing efforts. 


The objective of this survey was to assess prevalence of self-reported sexual abuse in a community hospital pediatric ER in the South Bronx. 

Methods: This was a descriptive qualitative study comprised of randomly distributed anonymous questionnaires given to youth aged 13 to 23 years at the BronxCare Hospital Pediatric Emergency Room. Questions addressed exposure to sexual abuse involving the patient or someone they know. The questionnaires were self-administered in English and put into a drop box in the Emergency Department.


A total of 55 people completed or partially complete the questionnaire and deposited it into the designated box over a period of 6 months. The age of respondents ranged from 13-23 years of age, 45% identified as male and 55% identified as female. 17.9% (13/55) of respondents reported that they have been forced or threatened to be harmed if they did not have oral, vaginal, anal or genital sex when they did not want to. Out of 54 total respondents, 14 (26%) reported that someone has touched their private/genital area when they did not want this. Of 32 respondents, 15 (47%) reported that they knew the person. Out of 28 responses, 10 (36%) reported that they informed someone. Fifteen people answered the question asking "How many more times did the abuse occur?": 8/15 reported one time, 4/15 reported two to four more times, and 2/15 reported 5 or more times, and 1/15 reported zero times.


Sexual abuse prevalence is difficult to determine because it is often unreported. Reported prevalence varies. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report reports 1.6 % (sixteen out of one thousand) of children between the ages of 12-17 were victims of rape/sexual assault. This study was intended to assess individuals' willingness to be forthcoming with this type of information in an inner-city pediatric emergency department. Child sexual abuse is a complicated issue that spans generations and impacts health outcomes. Appropriate interventions and resources, such as SAFE programs, need to be readily available to provide the most adequate and thorough care.

Bronxcare Hospital
University of Nebraska
BronxCare Hospital

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