skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 120796 Find in a Library
Title: Why Prosecute Child Abuse?
Journal: South Dakota Law Review  Volume:34  Issue:3  Dated:(1989)  Pages:649-659
Author(s): J M Peters; J Dinsmore; P Toth
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 11
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article argues that intrafamilial sex abuse should be criminally prosecuted even though the consequences of prosecution can cause serious damages to some families.
Abstract: Some social service agencies do not favor criminal prosecution for intrafamilial sex abuse because it can damage efforts to treat the abusing parent and reunite the family. However, several reasons for initiating prosecution for intrafamilial sex abuse do exist. First, criminal intervention makes it clear to the abused children that they are innocent victims and the perpetrators of the abuse are solely responsible for their wrongful acts. Second, criminal prosecution and punishment validate the victim's and the community's sense of fairness: no adult has the right to exploit the relative weakness of children. Third, successful prosecutions for child sex abuse educate the community on the issues of child maltreatment and serve to deter similar crimes. Fourth, courts can order offenders to undertake rehabilitative treatment in order to change or modify their deviant behavior and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Fifth, criminal prosecution gives the offender a criminal record, which unlike a social service record, can follow him if he moves from one State to another. The article points out that participating in the trial of an abusing adult can be cathartic rather than traumatic for the child victim. Prosecutors, social service workers, and treatment specialists must work together to clarify their roles as protectors of children. 28 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse
Index Term(s): Child abuse situation remedies; Family offenses; Prosecutorial discretion; Prosecutorial screening
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.