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Child Sexual Abuse is Largely Hidden From the Adult Society: An Epidemiological Study of adolescent Disclosures

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 32 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2008 Pages: 1095-1108
Gisela Priebe; Carl Goran Svedin
Date Published
December 2008
14 pages
This study investigated disclosure rates and disclosure patterns of sexual abuse among adolescents.
Findings showed that the disclosure rates of adolescents was high (81 percent for girls, 69 percent for boys) when compared to retrospective studies of adults presenting childhood disclosure (32 percent and 42 percent). Findings suggest that sexual abuse is largely hidden from the adult society, especially for professionals and the legal system. Disclosing child sexual abuse is a complex process; when adolescents disclose sexual abuse, friends seem to be the most important receivers of the information. The multiple regression analysis shows that children’s difficulties with disclosure are associated with both abuse factors such as severity and frequency, with relation to the perpetrator, and considering family background factors such as family structure and living in a caring environment. The implications for society might be that it must consider relying to a lesser extent on established organizations for information and instead must find ways to give young people better information and guidance about how to support a sexually abused peer and how to mediate help when necessary. The different disclosure patterns for girls and boys indicate that a gender perspective may be helpful when developing support efforts and education to professionals. Data were collected from the Baltic Sea Regional Study on Adolescent Sexuality from a sample of 4,339 high school seniors in Sweden. Tables, references