The public's knowledge about child sexual abuse influences its perceptions of prevention and associated policies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention requires efforts from all members of society. Objective: The current study aimed to examine factors associated with (1) perceptions of CSA as unpreventable and (2) support for policies to prevent CSA and to punish people who perpetrated CSA. We focused on the roles of knowledge and misperceptions about child sexual abuse. Participants and setting: We collected survey data online from a large (N = 5068), nationally representative sample of adults in the United States. Results: Analyses revealed factors promoting perceptions of CSA as unpreventable. Support for or against policies that aim to prevent CSA or to punish perpetrators of CSA were associated with individual factors such as older age (B = 0.08, −0.13), Republican political affiliation (B = 0.10, 0.07), and misperceptions about CSA (B = 0.15, 0.06). Conclusions: Findings highlight malleable factors that could be targeted to collectivize calls for CSA prevention and to promote support for effective policies to prevent CSA. In particular, ensuring accurate knowledge about CSA, and collective responsibility and government efficacy specific to CSA prevention, were identified as helping shape views of CSA as preventable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106447
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Child maltreatment
  • Knowledge
  • Policy support
  • Prevention
  • Understanding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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