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Undergraduate Students' Attributions of Depicted Adult-Adolescent and Adolescent-Adolescent Sexual Interactions

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2011 Pages: 157-181
Andrew Sherrill; Kimberly Renk; Valerie K. Sims; Anne Culp
Date Published
April 2011
25 pages
This study investigated how contemporary undergraduate students perceive childhood sexual abuse (CSA).
The grayest areas of defining child sexual abuse appear to involve the age and sex of the individuals involved, resulting in a potential for different attributions regarding child sexual abuse across individuals. As a result, this study examines the responses of 262 male and female college student participants after viewing a series of hypothetical sexual abuse vignettes that depicted a 15-year-old victim that neither resisted nor encouraged the advances of a 15-, 25-, or 35-year-old perpetrator's actions. Gender roles and sexual attitudes were examined as potentially important covariates. Using a series of analyses of covariance, female participants gave more pro-victim ratings than male participants, and younger perpetrators were viewed less negatively than older perpetrators. Gender roles and sexual attitudes served as significant covariates. These findings emphasized the need to educate individuals about child sexual abuse and unwanted sexual contact involving individuals under the age of consent. (Published Abstract)