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What Canadian Youth Tell us About Disclosing Abuse

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 33 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2009 Pages: 699-708
Michael Ungar; Leslie M. Tutty; Sheri McConnell; Ken Barter; Judi Fairholm
Date Published
October 2009
10 pages
Results are presented from a study of anonymous disclosures of abuse experiences among a sample of Canadian youth.
Findings of the study consistently showed a lack of disclosure of abuse experiences due to perceptions of barriers and consequences, with less than a quarter of youth with abuse experiences reporting disclosure. Youth in the study reported feeling anxious about disclosing to authorities, fearful of the potential loss of control over decisions which affected them. Disclosure patterns varied with boys, youth aged 14-15, victims of physical abuse, and those abused by a family member being most likely to disclose to professionals or the police. The results raise questions regarding why youth are reluctant to report abuse and preferring to cope independently or by confiding in peers. While research shows that awareness of child abuse and other forms of youth violence has grown, much abuse continues to go unreported. In addition, the literature clearly portrays young people's relationships with professionals as conflicted. Given this research, there continues to be a need to understand the optimal conditions under which children and youth will disclose all forms of victimization. This paper presents findings from a study of anonymous disclosures of abuse experiences among a national sample of youth in Canada participating in violence prevention programming. Tables and references