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Child Abuse: Adolescent Records vs. Adult Recall

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 14 Dated: (1990) Pages: 227-231
Date Published
5 pages
In a followup study of incarcerated Connecticut youth, 69 individuals were interviewed during young adulthood to determine the accuracy of the information they provided regarding their victimization by child abuse.
They had received extensive neuropsychiatric evaluations during adolescence, at an average age of 15 years, and were interviewed approximately 9 years later as young adults. On followup, 26 gave histories of childhood abuse that differed with histories obtained from records and interviews conducted in adolescents. Eleven of the participants agreed to an additional clarification interview, at which they were informed of the discrepancies. Of these, eight had adolescent records indicating that child abuse had occurred, but they denied abuse during the adult follow-up interview. The other three participants had adolescent records indicating that no abuse had ever occurred, but they reported at the followup that abuse had occurred. The additional clarification interviews revealed that all 11 participants with histories with discrepancies had actually been abused. Findings indicated that information gathered retrospectively from adults regarding child abuse is often inaccurate and that among the former delinquents, abuse was underreported. The research also indicated that questions regarding possible abuse must be asked in a variety of contexts and that the way in which questions are phrased affects the comfort and honesty of the person responding. 9 references and abstracts in French and Spanish

Date Published: January 1, 1990