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The Development and validation of the Child Sexual Assault Victim Credibility Scale: an instrument to measure laypersons' perceptions of victim credibility
journal contributionposted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ashmyra Voogt, Bianca KlettkeBianca Klettke, Mohammadreza MohebbiMohammadreza Mohebbi
Child sexual assault is a global health issue, with extensive implications for legal, social, clinical, and health psychology. The perceived credibility of child victims is of considerable importance in terms of the successful prosecution of such cases. However, there has been considerable inconsistency within past research regarding how best to measure credibility, and to date, there exists no broadly accepted scale for the measurement of lay perceptions of credibility of child victims. The current study evaluates a proposed Child Sexual Assault Victim Credibility Scale (CSAVCS) and includes the results of both a pilot and scale validation study. A two-phase approach for instrument development was adopted. Thirty-six participants from the general community were involved in the pilot study (Phase I), comprising six males and 30 females. A further 210 participants (61 males and 149 females) were included in the scale validation sample (Phase II). Participants read a transcript of a child disclosing sexual abuse and rated their perceptions of the child's accuracy, believability, competency, reliability, and truthfulness. The scale's reliability and internal validity were successfully tested and modified in Phase I and subsequently validated and confirmed in Phase II. There was strong evidence of internal consistency, reliability, and content validity. Following model respecification, the final 23-item model was confirmed. The evaluation of the CSAVCS was a crucial first step and will be useful for future research exploring perceived credibility. Using a validated and reliable scale may serve to improve the consistency of measurement of credibility and to facilitate comparisons among studies.