Youth Services Law

Showing 3 posts from December 2012.

Unrelated Men in the Home May Increase Risk of Abuse

Another study that has stood the test of time is a 2001 review of the rate of child abuse where there is an unrelated adult male in the home.  The study followed 788 at-risk children in North Carolina from birth to age 8.   It found that the presence of a nonbiological father figure in the home significantly increases the risk of a maltreatment report.  The risk is twice that of a family with only a single mother, and more than twice that of families with both biological parents in the home.  Having a biological father in the home, whether a one- or two-parent household, was associated with the lowest risk of abuse.

In a conclusion that no doubt raised hackles, the authors stated that "the presence of a nonbiological father figure in the home should be considered a significant predictor of a future child maltreatment report."  The authors also noted that, because the overwhelming majority of the men in the study were transient boyfriends, the findings do not necessarily apply to stepfathers.

Benefits of Early Disclosure of Abuse

A number of years ago, Child Maltreatment published a very good study on the benefits of early disclosure of child abuse.  The study was relatively large (860 participants, 204 of whom reported abuse), but depended on self-reports on extensive questionnaires. One of the most-cited studies that the journal has published, the study found that disclosure of abuse correlated to fewer PTSD symptoms, such as intrusion and avoidance.  Somewhat surprisingly, disclosure did not correlate to overall psychological functioning.  The authors noted also that "those assaults that cause the most psychological damage may be the ones that are least likely to be disclosed."

Teen Disclosures of Sexual Abuse

A Teen Sitting on a Bench in a Park with a ConfidantA study from Switzerland looked at how teenagers first disclosed the sexual abuse they had suffered. The study was small, only 23 adolescents, but it involved in-depth interviews. Among the interesting findings was that most of the teenagers told a friend before they told their parents. The study authors recommend that child abuse prevention programs work on strengthening the bonds between teens and their parents, and teach teenagers how to handle disclosures from friends about abuse.

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