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Child Maltreat. 2018 May;23(2):196-206. doi: 10.1177/1077559517734059. Epub 2017 Oct 15.

When Is a Child's Forensic Statement Deemed Credible? A Comparison of Physical and Sexual Abuse Cases.

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1 School of Social Work, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.
2 Department of Education, Rees Centre for Research on Fostering and Education, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
3 Child Investigations Service, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel.


A large national sample of 4,775 reports of child physical and sexual abuse made in Israel in 2014 was analyzed in order to examine whether assessments of credibility would vary according to abuse type, physical or sexual, and whether child and event characteristics contributing to the probability that reports of abuse would be determined as credible would be similar or different in child physical abuse (CPA) and child sexual abuse (CSA) cases. Results revealed that CPA reports were less likely to be viewed as credible (41.9%) compared to CSA reports (56.7%). Multigroup path analysis, however, indicated equivalence in predicting factors. In a unified model for both types of abuse, salient predictors of a credible judgment were older age, lack of a cognitive delay, and the alleged abusive event being a onetime less severe act. Over and beyond the effects of these factors, abuse type significantly contributed to the prediction of credibility judgments.


child physical abuse; child sexual abuse; credibility assessment; forensic evaluation; professional judgments


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