How Plausible are the Accounts of Child Victims of Sexual Abuse? A Study of Bizarre and Unusual Scripts Reported by Children

Segnaliamo un articolo di Claudio Longobardi, Marinella Malacrea, Paolo Giulini, Michele Settanni e Matteo Angelo Fabbri pubblicato sulla rivista internazionale Journal of Child Sexual Abuse.

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Child sexual abuse is a serious social problem. In reports of sexually abused children, victims’ narratives often contain elements that suggest the abuse was recorded to create images for child pornography with sadistic, bizarre, or perverted details. The presence of unusual or bizarre elements in the accounts of abused children affects their credibility. The purpose of this paper is to assess the presence and prevalence of these elements in the reports of children with suspected sexual abuse and to examine their consistency with verified cases of child abuse. We conducted two studies. In Study 1, we developed a list of 16 categories of unusual and bizarre scripts reported by children in reports of sexual abuse. In Study 2, we validated the list by examining the presence of the identified scripts in the actual experiences of both individuals convicted of crimes related to child pornography and Italian police officers who were involved with child pornography as part of their official duties. Our findings suggest that children’s accounts of sexual abuse should be considered credible even if they contain unusual or bizarre elements that also occur in child pornography and therefore may reflect events actually experienced rather than merely the child’s fantasy or imagination.