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Children's Disclosure of Sexual Abuse During Formal Investigation

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 18 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1994) Pages: 543- 548
K Keary; C Fitzpatrick
Date Published
6 pages
Data from 251 children who received full assessments in a children's hospital in Dublin, Ireland during investigations of child sexual abuse were analyzed to provide information on children's disclosures of sexual abuse during formal investigative interviews.
The children were all assessed in a child sexual abuse assessment unit over a 12-month period. The children were divided at the time of referral into two groups: (1) those who had previously told someone about abusive experiences prior to investigations and (2) those who had not. Results revealed a strongly positive correlation between having previously told someone about sexual abuse and disclosure of such abuse during formal investigation. Age was an important variable; children under age 5 were least likely to disclose abuse during formal investigation regardless of whether they had previously told someone about abuse. The disclosure during investigation was also strongly positively correlated with the abuse being regarded as confirmed. The findings call into question the usefulness of formal sexual abuse investigations for children who have not previously told someone about abuse. The value of a nonleading interview style with young children was also called into question. Tables and 9 references (Author abstract modified)