Child sexual abuse is largely hidden from the adult society: An epidemiological study of adolescents' disclosures

Author(s)Priebe, Gisela and Carl Goran Svedin
Title Child sexual abuse is largely hidden from the adult society: An epidemiological study of adolescents' disclosures
Source Child Abuse & Neglect,December 2008; Vol.32; Issue 12; pp 1085-1108
Date 2008
Document type Journal article
Coverage Sweden
Summary This study explored adolescents' disclosure of sexual abuse, including disclosure rates and patterns and predictors of non-disclosure, for high school boys and girls. A self-report questionnaire was completed by 2,374 girls and 2,015 boys and 65% of the girls and 23% of the boys reported some form of sexual abuse experience. Few adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse reported that they had talked to a professional about the abuse or that the incident had been reported to social authorities or the police. Predictors of non-disclosure were different for boys and girls, except for parental bonding which was common to both. For boys, the main predictors of non-disclosure were educational program, family structure and parental bonding. For girls, the severity and frequency of the sexual abuse, the relation to the offender and parental bonding, were important predictors. The authors discuss the implications of the study for service providers and suggest that professionals, particularly in the school system, need to be more aware of the issues and should offer support, with a gender perspective, both to the vulnerable young persons and to peers who may wish to help a friend.
Keywords Sexual assault; disclosure; reporting; adolescents; abuse.
Topic Sexual assault