Gender differences in children's disclosures and legal narratives of sexual abuse

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Legal narratives obtained from forensic interviews of twenty sexually abused children were analyzed concerning gender differences in disclosure patterns and narrative elaboration. Quantitative analysis of the children's disclosure of

Legal narratives obtained from forensic interviews of twenty sexually abused children were analyzed concerning gender differences in disclosure patterns and narrative elaboration. Quantitative analysis of the children's disclosure of sexual abuse revealed that boys made prompted disclosures to caretakers, primarily mothers. Girls more often made purposeful disclosures, and revealed the abuse to caretakers as well as other supportive individuals. Quantitative analysis of the children's forensic interviews revealed that girls provided more coherent, elaborate, structured, and contextually detailed narratives than boys did. Children's accounts of their disclosures were qualitatively analyzed. Results indicated that fear was the primary reason children delayed abuse disclosure. Qualitative analysis also found that the children's narratives revealed several common themes including themes of force and resistance. Implications for legal interventions on behalf of children and the effectiveness of abuse prevention programs were discussed.