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Sexual abuse investigations involving preschool-aged victims: Which cases are prosecuted?

Conference contribution
Authors Emelie Ernberg
Sara Landström
Published in 12th Meeting of the Nordic Network for research on Psychology and Law, September 2016, Uppsala
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Child sexual abuse, prosecution, legal decision making
Subject categories Applied Psychology, Psychology

Abstract

Child sexual abuse (CSA) cases are notoriously difficult to investigate. Substantially fewer cases involving preschool-aged victims are prosecuted compared to cases where the victim is an older child. We aim to investigate what is required for CSA cases involving preschool-aged victims to be carried forward for prosecution. Data from prosecuted cases (N = 30) will be compared to data from discontinued preliminary investigations (N = 30). A number of factors will be examined in order to determine if they can predict prosecution in CSA cases involving preschool victims. The cases will be analyzed with respect to type and length of abuse, relationship between the complainant and defendant, the child’s disclosure of abuse, type of evidence available and the prevalence of a custodial dispute. The results will be discussed in the light of previous research into prosecution of CSA cases and we will attempt to offer some guiding suggestions to how these difficult investigations can be facilitated.

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