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Non-offending guardian support and protection in cases of child sexual abuse: the role of risk perception

Oliver, Caroline (2012)
Foren.Psy.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Research has shown that the reaction of the non-offending guardian following disclosure of child sexual abuse (CSA) is an important factor related to the adjustment of the victim. However, to date, comparatively little research has examined the characteristics of non-offending guardians, specifically factors related to their ability to support and protect their child in the aftermath of disclosure. A systematic review of the existing literature, specifically primary studies of intervening variables for guardian belief, support and protection, or various combinations thereof, is firstly presented. Here, the lack of consensus within the literature over definition of ‘guardian support’ is highlighted, a situation that has confounded the drawing of firm conclusions regarding associated factors. Secondly, an empirical study is presented where this area of research is broadened out to include a general population of mothers and female carers, and to specifically examine perception of future sex offending risk through the use of vignettes. It is postulated that risk perception is a mediating variable between a guardian’s belief in the occurrence of CSA and subsequent support and protection, a variable that has yet to be examined within the literature as it relates to non-offending guardians. Results showed that mothers tended to over-estimate risk of re-offending, although of concern was that, in general terms, younger offenders with male victims (rated as ‘high risk’ according to a widely-used actuarial measure of sex offender risk) were regarded to be the least risky. Finally, an existing measure of guardian support is critically appraised. It is hypothesised that this type of instrument, that only measures a narrow aspect of a non-offending guardian’s post-disclosure functioning, might be usefully employed within an overall ‘risk of failure to protect’ assessment framework. Drawing upon the current findings, a model upon which to base this type of assessment is outlined in the discussion.

Type of Work:Foren.Psy.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Hamilton-Giachritsis, Catherine and Harkins, Leigh
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Psychology, Centre for Forensic and Criminological Psychology
Subjects:BF Psychology
HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3757
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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