Factors associated with the detection of the signs of child sexual abuse
AbstractChild sexual abuse (CSA) is a major international societal concern, with up to 48% of women and 29% of men having experienced it, often with severe resultant psychological issues. The utility of offender management programs in reducing CSA is disputed and the reporting rate of CSA is low, so the ability to detect sexually abusive relationships between adults and children is of increased importance. However, media propagation of child sex offender stereotypes inhibits their detection. This study used a vignette-based online questionnaire to explore if the signs of abuse can be detected in a child’s relationship with their football coach and if the ‘dirty old man’ age stereotype impacts detection. Whether adults already trained in detecting CSA rated the potential for sexual abuse differently than untrained adults in scenarios where it was included was also explored. The analyses indicated a significantly higher rating for CSA in ‘abuse’ scenarios than ‘no-abuse’ scenarios across all participants, with a large effect size. However, there was no significant difference in rating based on abuser age (none given, 19, 50). Additionally, CSA trained participants did not rate abuse scenarios significantly differently than untrained participants. Lack of trust in the media, extensive reporting of high-profile cases that did not include a stereotypically-aged sex offender, and the personal experiences of participants were considered as potential mitigating factors for the age stereotype. The focus of existing CSA training on symptoms rather than relationships is considered as a potential explanation for similar ratings between trained and untrained participants.
CitationGoddard, N. (2018). Factors associated with the detection of the signs of child sexual abuse. (Master's thesis). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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