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Child Abuse Negl. 1993 Sep-Oct;17(5):651-62.

Preschoolers' cognitions of authority, and its relationship to sexual abuse education.

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Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


This study investigated preschoolers' perceptions of authority in sexual and benign situations and how these might influence acquisition of concepts presented in a sexual abuse prevention program. Participants were 117 children, ages 36-84 months, at four day-care centers. Children were randomly assigned to either an experimental or delayed treatment control group. Measures of authority and prevention skills were administered prior to and following the first administration of the curriculum. Preschoolers reasoned at a higher level of authority in sexually abusive encounters as compared to benign ones. For experimental children, this capability increased after participating in the prevention program. At pretest, sexual abuse authority scores predicted scores on one of two prevention skills; pretest authority scores did not predict either posttest prevention skill. Results are discussed in relation to children's understanding of moral versus social-conventional rules, and future directions for research are indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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