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Child Abuse Negl. 1994 Apr;18(4):349-56.

Re-examining the efficacy of child sexual abuse prevention strategies: victims' and offenders' attitudes.

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Department of Pediatrics, Ohio State University, Columbus.


Current sexual abuse prevention programs have been forced to rely on anecdotal clinical information to guide curriculum development. Recent evidence that suggests that sexual abuse offenders can reliably offer information regarding their modus operandi implies that sexual abuse offenders can be important sources of information about the victimization process. However, only one study to date has examined offenders' attitudes about sexual abuse prevention topics, and methodological problems limit the applicability of that study. The current study asked 16 intrafamilial victims, 16 intrafamilial perpetrators, and 15 extrafamilial perpetrators of child sexual abuse to rate the efficacy of various prevention strategies on a Likert-type scale. Results indicated that there were no differences between the three groups and that both victims and offenders appeared to have difficulty discriminating the value of 12 prevention topics, perhaps because the items were too global or because they engendered socially desirable responses. Open-ended questions that asked offenders to identify factors that would dissuade them from pursuing the abuse of particular victims indicated that different prevention skills or strategies may be effective at different stages of the victim-offender "relationship." Overall, the findings suggest that when questioning offenders or victims about the victimization process, investigators need to utilize specific (rather than global) questions and need to separately analyze each stage in the victim-offender relationship. These methodological improvements may offer greater potential for enhancing our knowledge of how to reduce child sexual abuse.

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