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NCJ Number: 207003 Find in a Library
Title: Boundaries and Family Practices: Implications for Assessing Child Abuse
Journal: Journal of Child Sexual Abuse  Volume:12  Issue:3/4  Dated:2003  Pages:103-125
Author(s): Toni Cavanagh Johnson; Richard I. Hooper
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 23
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A sample of 717 mental-health and child-welfare professionals were queried about appropriate ages for mothers and fathers to be exposing their sons and daughters to a variety of potentially sexually related behaviors, such as taking baths together, washing their children's bodies, or cleaning their children after they have used the toilet.
Abstract: The intent of this research was to provide some standard for family practices considered currently acceptable in the United States regarding children's exposure to sexually related behaviors. A questionnaire was administered in 1999 and 2000 to mental-health and child-welfare professionals attending training programs held in Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Maine, Florida, Georgia, and New York. Approximately 70 percent of the professionals returned the questionnaire, yielding a sample of 717 respondents. The questions focused on age-appropriate standards for families in bathing together, showering together, sleeping in the same bed with a single parent, hugging between parents and their children, kissing on the mouth, changing clothes together, giving back rubs, parents' washing their children's bodies, applying medicine to private parts, and cleaning children after they use the toilet. These behaviors were categorized under the topics of hygiene, affection, and privacy. The independent variables were distinguishing characteristics of the participants, and the dependent variables were their responses to appropriate ages for situational physical contact between mothers and fathers and their sons and daughters. ANOVA and t-tests were used to identify significant gender pair differences of mean appropriate ages regarding physical boundaries in families. Family practices were deemed acceptable between mothers and daughters up to older ages than for fathers with their sons. The findings show high variability in the responses regarding appropriate ages for the behaviors, as well as whether the behavior was ever acceptable regardless of the children's ages. The authors suggest that problem behaviors in the children are most likely to occur when they co-occur with other boundary violations, such as when the behaviors are sexualized and parents attempt to meet their own emotional needs through their children. 9 tables and 33 references
Main Term(s): Parent-Child Relations
Index Term(s): Child protection services; Child Sexual Abuse; Mental health services; Parental attitudes; Parental influence; Sexual behavior
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