Consistency in children's reports of sexual and physical abuse

Child Abuse Negl. 2002 Sep;26(9):977-95. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(02)00367-8.

Abstract

Objective: The goal of the present study was to investigate the consistency of children's reports of sexual and physical abuse.

Method: A group of 222 children, ages 3-16 years, participated. As part of legal investigations, the children were interviewed twice about their alleged experiences of abuse. The consistency of children's reports of sexual and physical abuse was examined in the two interviews, in relation to age, type of abuse, gender, memory, suggestibility, and cognitive capabilities.

Results: Older children were more consistent than younger children in their reports of sexual and physical abuse. Children were more consistent when reporting sexual abuse than physical abuse. Girls were more consistent than boys in sexual abuse reports. Consistency in sexual abuse reports was predicted by measures of memory, whereas consistency in physical abuse reports was not. Cognitive abilities did not predict consistency in sexual abuse or physical abuse reports.

Conclusions: Implications for understanding children's allegations of abuse are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / classification
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*