Opening Plenary Session
Thursday, January 17, 2013: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Harbor Island Ballroom 1, 2, and 3 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Kathleen C. Faller, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Stakes are high in child sexual abuse cases. Stakeholders are child victims, individuals accused of sexual abuse, and professionals involved in these cases. Social justice issues in child sexual abuse are impacted by research (the empirical evidence, which is incomplete), practice (which involves both art and science), the media (which often is focused on “a story” rather than facts), and politics (who has power). Notwithstanding recent convictions in high profile cases (e.g., Jerry Sandusky, Monsignor William Lynn), often the accused are more powerful and prevail. Children are challenged as being inaccurate, suggestible, or lying when
they report their sexual abuse. Moreover, professionals, especially child protection and social workers, are often accused of incompetence and advocacy on behalf of victims. The presentation will provide data on the prevalence of child sexual abuse, estimates of the proportion of victims who disclose during childhood, the prevalence of false allegations, research and best practice in interviewing children who may have been sexually abused, legal outcomes, and current knowledge about evidence-based interventions to ameliorate
the effects of child sexual abuse. These findings will be related to the stakes, the stakeholders, and social justice. Future directions for research and social justice practice will be suggested.