Send to

Choose Destination
Child Abuse Negl. 1994 Jul;18(7):543-8.

Children's disclosure of sexual abuse during formal investigation.

Author information

St. Clare's Unit, Children's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.


This study set out to provide information on children's disclosures of sexual abuse during formal child sexual abuse investigation. The study was carried out in a Child Sexual Abuse Assessment Unit based in a Children's Hospital, staffed by a multidisciplinary team and receiving referrals from community child protection agencies, pediatricians, general practitioners, and the police. Two hundred and fifty one children who had full assessments over a 12-month period formed the study group. They were divided at time of referral into two groups: (a) those who had previously told someone about abusive experiences prior to investigations; and (b) those who had not. There was a strongly positive correlation between having previously told someone about sexual abuse and disclosure of such abuse during formal investigation. There was also a strongly positive correlation between not having previously told someone and not disclosing during formal investigation. Age was an important variable, with children under 5 being least likely to disclose abuse during formal investigation, irrespective of whether they had previously told someone about abuse. Disclosure of sexual abuse during investigation was strongly positively correlated with abuse being regarded as confirmed. These results call into question the value of formal sexual abuse investigation in children who have not previously told someone about abuse. The value of a "nonleading" interview style with young children is also called into question, given that many young children who had previously disclosed abuse, did not repeat this information during formal investigation in which "nonleading" interviews were used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center