Time to abandon prevalence studies of childhood sexual abuse?

dogbod2018, blog

by Dr Sarah Nelson CRFR Associate Researcher Dr Sarah Nelson reflects on the problematic issues around prevalence studies of childhood sexual abuse. The wealth of prevalence studies of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) continue to display wildly differing results. Yet the impetus to carry out more studies continues, nationally and internationally. These studies are driven by the demands of commissioners and funders to ‘prove’ need before services are provided or expanded, but also by professional ambition among researchers to be the ones producing a definitive study. Neither of these is a child-centred approach, especially when basic services – as for instance an NSPCC Scotland report recently demonstrated – remain inadequate for the minority of sexually abused children we do know about. I suggest that conventional prevalence studies are largely fruitless, and that greater accuracy about prevalence will come about as a by-product of ethical, child-centred practice against sexual abuse. First of all, while factors like safety and confidentiality, follow-up, inclusion of stigmatised subgroups, and description of acts rather than terms like ‘abuse’ or ‘rape’ will produce more accurate survey findings, we will never approach anything like total accuracy about a secretive, often organised crime overlaid with coercion, shame and silencing. Crucially, … Read More

When is it safe to disclose childhood sexual abuse?

dogbod2017, blog

There have been on-going efforts to improve the identification of children who have been sexually abused and to encourage disclosures. It is important to consider, however, if disclosing actually promotes well-being and resilience among survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). If it does, how can we promote disclosures, and with that resilience, with children … Read More »

Serious concerns for child protection?

dogbod2017, blog

Several points about the absolute discharge given in Scotland last week by Lady Scott to Daniel Cieslak, who was convicted of raping a 12 year old girl, will greatly concern child protection campaigners for their potentially far-reaching implications.… Read More »