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Factors That Influence Professionals' Perceptions of Behavioral Indicators of Child Sexual Abuse

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 6 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1991) Pages: 385-395
Date Published
11 pages
This study examined five factors -- profession of the interviewer, expectation of the interviewer, sex of the interviewer, purpose of the interview (investigative versus therapeutic), and age of the child -- that might influence professionals' perceptions about the credibility of behavioral indicators of child sexual abuse.

The sample consisted of 201 law enforcement and mental health professionals, including 63 men and 138 women. The results showed that professionals who believed that children do not lie about sexual abuse were more convinced by various behavioral indicators than were professionals who approached children neutrally. For symptoms such as depression, aggression, and fear of the perpetrator, law enforcement professionals and women were more convinced than mental health experts and men. There was no effect based on purpose of the interview, but age of the child did affect perceptions of indicators. Younger children were more convincing than older children who often demonstrated adult-level knowledge of sexuality, but age of the child did not affect other types of symptoms. 1 table and 11 references

Date Published: January 1, 1991