Child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome

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Child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) is a syndrome developed by Roland C. Summit in 1983 to describe how he believed sexually abused children responded to ongoing sexual abuse.

Summit described how children try to resolve the experience of sexual abuse in relation to the effects of disclosure in real life. He posited five stages:[1]

  1. Secrecy
  2. Helplessness
  3. Entrapment and accommodation
  4. Delayed disclosure
  5. Retraction

According to Mary de Young, CSAAS featured heavily in the day-care sex-abuse hysteria of the 1980s and 90s, because it purports to explain both delayed disclosures and withdrawals of false allegation of child sexual abuse. De Young argued that CSAAS is used to justify any statement made by a child as an indication that sexual abuse had occurred, because immediate disclosure could be an indication of abuse, but also delayed disclosure, withdrawal and sustained denial.[2]

Margaret Shiu wrote in 2009 that "There is empirical evidence to support both the scientific validity of CSAAS and the tendency for sexually abused children to recant their allegations of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse)."[3] Shiu concluded that "It is therefore time for courts to stop doubting the scientific validity of CSAAS."[3]


  1. Summit, Roland (1983). "The child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome" (pdf). Child Abuse Negl. 7 (2): 177–93. PMID 6605796. doi:10.1016/0145-2134(83)90070-4. 
  2. De Young, Mary (2004). The day care ritual abuse moral panic. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-1830-3. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shiu, Margaret (2009) Unwarranted Skepticism: The Federal Courts' Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome, Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, Volume 18, Number 3, p. 672, 677