Children's reactions to sex abuse investigation and litigation

Child Abuse Negl. 1987;11(2):267-72. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(87)90066-4.


This investigation attempted to begin to quantify the extent to which children are helped or further victimized by sex abuse investigation and litigation procedures. Although there is virtually no research on the subject, frequent assumptions have been made that these procedures often further victimize children. Significant changes in state legislation have and are being considered which would protect victims from further victimization. A child victim questionnaire was sent to the presidents of all area child abuse and neglect councils in the state of Iowa as well as to other personnel working with sexually abused children. The somewhat surprising findings revealed that of the 48 questionnaires returned only approximately 21% of the victims perceived that the questioning and investigation was harmful, while approximately 53% saw it as helpful. Other analyses found that ratings of helpfulness were not correlated with the age of the victim, the presence of a supportive adult during questioning, the number of abuse incidents, whether or not the interviews were videotaped, and whether or not the perpetrator was a family member. Testifying in court and high numbers of interviewers were associated with more negative ratings. The limitations and implications of the results are discussed along with suggestions for future research.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incest
  • Iowa
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests