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Counselor Education and Supervision
Trauma due to sexual assault becomes a life changing event during a child's critical developmental years. Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory outlines the process of understanding an individual's environment and how disruptions in one level may affect other levels. This study determined if gender and ethnicity among sexually traumatized children diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) predict symptom severity as measured by the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) after controlling for the socioeconomic level and home environment. The population consisted of 126 children aged 8 through 16 with at least a second-grade reading level. Multiple regression examined whether male and female children were significantly different concerning the magnitude of PTSD symptom presentation. Multiple regression was also used to test whether gender and ethnicity played a significant role in predicting specific symptoms. Female gender had statistically significant predictive power concerning anger and sexual concern. Age at intake was associated with significantly higher scores for anxiety, anger, and dissociation. Home environment was a statistically significant predictor for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and sexual concern with children living in a foster home having significantly higher symptom severity in these domains. Socioeconomic status was the strongest predictor variable. The addition of sexual assault in the diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD with the adoption of DSM-5 indicate a justification for further research. Increased awareness of inefficiencies in identification of symptoms and inadequacies in training trauma providers are indicative of social change. Further knowledge of PTSD symptom expression propagates a new protocol when treating traumatized children.