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Lessons Learned: Conducting Research With Victims Portrayed in Sexual Abuse Images and Their Parents

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Dated: March 2016
W. A. Walsh; J. Wolak
Date Published
March 2016
0 pages
Since no studies of which the authors are aware have explored victim reactions to participating in research after they have been portrayed in sexual abuse images, the current study conducted telephone interviews with convenience samples of parents (n = 46) and adolescents who were victims of child sexual abuse (n = 11; some of whom were portrayed in sexual abuse images), and online surveys were completed by adult survivors depicted in abuse images (N = 133).
The first lesson learned from this study was that few agencies tracked this type of crime. This lack of tracking raises the question as to what types of data should be collected and tracked as part of an investigation. The second lesson was that few victims at the two participating agencies had been portrayed in sexual abuse images (4-5 percent). The third lesson was that once possible cases were identified, the study found relatively high percentages of consent to contact and interview completions. This implies that researchers and service providers should not be hesitant about conducting research after an investigation of child sexual abuse. The fourth lesson was that the vast majority of participants reported not being upset by the questions. The authors hope that the data presented will encourage agencies to reconsider the types of data being tracked and will encourage researchers to conduct in-depth research with populations that are often difficult to reach, so as to continue improving the professional response to child victimization. 14 references (Publisher abstract modified)