Attributions in a Hypothetical Child Sexual Abuse Case: Roles of Abuse Type, Family Response and Respondent Gender

Journal of Family Violence (Impact Factor: 1.17). 09/2007; 22(8):733-745. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-007-9121-z

ABSTRACT The present study examines the impact abuse type, family response, and respondent gender have on attributions of blame in
a hypothetical child sexual abuse (CSA) case. Three hundred and ninety three respondents read a hypothetical CSA scenario
describing the sexual assault of a 14year old girl by a 25-year-old man and completed 14 attribution items. Overall, the
assault was deemed more serious, the perpetrator more culpable, and the family less culpable when CSA involved (vaginal) penetration.
Contrary to expectations, respondents were more negative towards a family who denied the abuse took place versus one which
blamed or supported the victim. Finally, male respondents deemed the abuse to be less serious, were more negative towards
the victim and their families, and more positive towards perpetrators than were female respondents. The role these factors
play in CSA attributions, together with ideas for future research, are discussed.

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