Professional response and attitudes toward female-perpetrated child sexual abuse : a study of psychologists, probationary psychologists and child protection workers

Mellor, David and Deering, Rebecca 2010, Professional response and attitudes toward female-perpetrated child sexual abuse : a study of psychologists, probationary psychologists and child protection workers, Psychology, crime and law, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 415-438.

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Title Professional response and attitudes toward female-perpetrated child sexual abuse : a study of psychologists, probationary psychologists and child protection workers
Author(s) Mellor, David
Deering, Rebecca
Journal name Psychology, crime and law
Volume number 16
Issue number 5
Start page 415
End page 438
Total pages 24
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2010-06
ISSN 1068-316X
Keyword(s) female
sex offender
child abuse
professionals
attitudes
Summary Previous studies have suggested that lay people and professionals both tend to deny or minimise female-perpetrated sexual abuse of children. However, such abuse has been shown to have negative impacts on the victims. This study investigated whether professionals who might work with victims or perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse show a bias in processing scenarios and making decisions when confronted such abuse. A sample of 231 psychiatrists, psychologists, probationary psychologists and child protection workers responded to variations in vignettes in which women and men offended against children, and completed a questionnaire assessing attitudes to women's sexually abusive/offending behaviour toward children. All professional groups regarded cases involving female perpetrators of child sexual abuse as serious and deserving of professional attention. However, while there were some differences between groups, female perpetrators were more likely than male perpetrators to be considered leniently, suggesting that minimisation of female-perpetrated sexual abuse of children may persist in the professional arena. As a result, both female perpetrators of sexual abuse and their victims may go untreated, and in the case of perpetrators, their behaviour may go unsanctioned. Training for professionals to enhance their understanding of the seriousness of sexual abuse perpetrated by women is indicated.
Language eng
Field of Research 170104 Forensic Psychology
Socio Economic Objective 920410 Mental Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30031205

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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