The Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
Primary prevention, not primarily reaction.

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Child Sexual Abuse & Prevention Research

The following is a general overview of significant research done on child sexual abuse and sexual abuse prevention in recent memory. It is not exhaustive, but is a good introduction of existing research and statistics discussing child sexual abuse and its prevention.

Chaffin, M., Levenson, J., Letourneau, E., & Stern, P. (2009). How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters?: An Analysis of Child Sex Crime Rates on Halloween. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 21(3), 363-374. doi:10.1177/1079063209340143

This study analyzes the rates of child sexual abuse, looking at data from 67,307 sex offenses and 67,045 victims on and around Halloween, finding no significant increase or decrease when compared to the rest of the year. The full text of this study is available here.

Everson, M., & Boat, B. (1989). False Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Children and Adolescents. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 28(2), 230-235. doi:10.1097/00004583-198903000-00014

This study looks at the rate of false allegations in the context of child protective services cases, and concludes that, “Many professionals in the field of child sexual abuse are more skeptical of child and adolescent claims of child sexual abuse than available research suggests is warranted.” In other words, professionals do not believe children when they should.

Fang, X., Brown, D. S., Florence, C. S., & Mercy, J. A. (2012). Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 156-165.

This study developed new estimates for the lifetime costs for victims of child maltreatment, both fatal and nonfatal. Of note is that the average maltreatment survivor incurs $210,012 in costs, $144,360 of which are in productivity losses. In short, child maltreatment costs us all money in addition to the emotional and psychological effects it has.

Finkelhor, D. (2009). The Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse. The Future Of Children, 19(2).

This article details many current methods of preventing child sexual abuse, concluding that efforts to punish and manage offenders are less effective than primary prevention efforts. A wide variety of methods, including sex offender registration and notification, sex offender residency restrictions, child safety education, and others are covered.

Finkelhor, D., & Shattuck, A. (2012). Characteristics of Crimes Against Juveniles.

This study analyzed the circumstances in which crimes against children occur. One finding of note is that 90% of victims know the perpetrator of the crime, whatever the crime may be.

Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., & Chaffin, M. (2009). Juveniles Who Commit Sex Offenses Against Minors. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved from

This study analyzed the characteristics of children who sexually victimize other children, noting the average ages involved, proportion of crimes perpetrated by juveniles, and recidivism statistics.

Floric, M., & Broyles, M. (2012). Sexual Abuse. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.

This is a book for youth who may have suffered child sexual abuse. One of the many statistics cited in the book is that less than 50% of child sexual abuse cases are reported to police.

National Children's Advocacy Center. (2011). Recantation and False Allegations of Child Abuse: A Bibliography.

This is an overview of the literature involving recantations of child sexual abuse, and outright false allegations of the same. It is a fantastic source for more studies on false reporting of child sexual abuse.

Pereda, N., Guilera, G., Forns, M., & Gómez-Benito, J. (2009). The Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse in Community and Student Samples: A Meta-Analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(4), 328-338.

This is a meta-analysis looking at 65 articles across 22 countries looking at the prevalence of child sexual abuse. Their study showed that 7.9% of men and 19.7% of women had suffered some form of child sexual abuse before the age of 18. The analysis does not attempt to account for underreporting.

Stoltenborgh, M., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Euser, E. M., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2011). A Global Perspective on Child Sexual Abuse: Meta-Analysis of Prevalence Around the World. Child Maltreatment, 16(2), 79-101. doi:10.1177/1077559511403920

This meta-analysis looked at 217 articles published between 1980 and 2008. The total sample size was 9,911,748 participants, and separated the average rates of sexual abuse by area: The lowest rates for both boys and girls were in Asia, while the highest was Australia for girls and Africa for boys. The overall prevalence was 18% in girls, and 7.6% in boys, though they also conclude that survey method plays a significant factor in whether participants report having been abused.