"What do you mean the perpetrator? You mean my friend??" Spotlighting the narratives of young children who are victims of sexual abuse by their peers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Sexual abuse of children by their peers (peer-to-peer sexual abuse [PSA]) is an understudied phenomenon, with most of the existing literature focusing on adolescents. The current study therefore aimed to put the spotlight on the experiences and perceptions of young children (ages 6-10) who were sexual abused by their peers. Method: The study comprised 30 forensic investigations with children, aged 6-10, who were victims of PSA. The age gap between the offenders and the victims was a maximum of 2 years. All of the narratives were analyzed via use of the qualitative approach and delved into the experiences and perceptions of the child victims. Results: The descriptive analyses of the sample indicated that both boys and girls were prone to PSA, that most of the incidents happened only once, and that most of the incidents were characterized as having private parts touched underneath the clothes. The themes that were identified in the children's narratives highlight the dynamic between the offenders and the victims, the context where the abuse took place, and the story of the disclosure. Conclusions: The findings from the current study clearly stress the urgent need to put greater effort into the study of PSA so as to not only generate a clearer definition of the phenomenon but also encourage policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to better adapt prevention and intervention programs to the fragile and complex nature of PSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Violence
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Forensic investigations
  • Peer sexual abuse
  • Peers
  • Sexual abuse

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