Sexually abused children in a national survey of parents: Methodological issues.



In a national survey of 1,000 parents, which primarily concerned disciplinary practices and violence toward their children, two questions were asked about whether the children had been sexually abused. This was to assess the feasibility epidemiological research on contemporaneous sexual abuse using parental interviews rather than the usual adult retrospective approach. From these questions, rates of sexual abuse for children currently 0-17 were estimated at 1.9% in the last year and 5.7% ever. The cases making up these rates included a nearly equal number of boys and girls and no female victims between the ages of 9 and 12, a distribution different from those generally obtained by other epidemiological methods, but due possibly in this case to normal sampling variation. Cases, were more likely to be disclosed for children whose parents had themselves been sexually abused, who were from lower income households, or who were living with only one biologic parent. Although some of the findings suggest caution in generalizing about child sexual abuse from survey samples of parents, the method is worthy of exploration if only to gain better epidemiologic data about parent knowledge, reaction, reporting, and coping strategies.



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Child Abuse and Neglect



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