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Perceived Credibility of Children's Sexual Abuse Allegations: Effects of Gender and Sexual Attitudes

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We investigated whether sex role stereotyping, adversarial sexual beliefs, acceptance of interpersonal violence, sex of the subject, characteristics of the child (age, sex), and characteristics of the alleged perpetrator (stranger, father) affect judgments of the credibility of children's reports that they have been sexually abused. Two hundred and fifty-five college students in a 3 x 2 x 2 factorial arrangement were given the Burt (1980) scales and asked to read a short vignette in which a child alleged that he/she was sexually abused and the accused male denied the abuse. Although the vast majority of subjects indicated that they believed the child was telling the truth, females rated the child's credibility significantly higher than males F(l, 253) = 6.29, p = .01226. No other significant relationships were found. The results imply that the vast majority of individuals in a college sample tended to believe children's sexual abuse allegations and that this credibility assessment is not influenced by characteristics of the child or perpetrator examined in this study. Implications of the truncated range of the dependent variable and of the Burt scales are discussed.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: Northern Illinois University 2: University of Maine

Publication date: 1992-01-01

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  • Violence and Victims discusses theory, research, policy, and clinical practice in the area of interpersonal violence and victimization across such disciplines as psychology, sociology, criminology, law, medicine, nursing, psychiatry, and social work.

    The journal's 2014 Impact Factor is 0.858.
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