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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 202856 Find in a Library
Title: Focussing on the Child
Author(s): Paul Rofe; Filomena Merlino
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This paper focuses on the plight of children victimized by intrafamilial sexual abuse when they become involved as victims/witnesses in the criminal justice system; an alternative process is proposed for dealing with child complainants of intrafamilial sexual abuse.
Abstract: The disclosure of the sexual abuse of a child by a family member is inherently stressful for the child, with the level of stress related to the reactions to and support received by the child at the time of disclosure. Inappropriate intervention for the child at the time of disclosure can increase the child's sense of isolation, further fueling self-hate, self-blame, and alienation. Intervention on the child's behalf must not only take into account the dynamics and traumatizing aspects of the victimization itself, but also the maturity level and coping capacities of the child in the course of processing the case in the criminal justice system. This paper lists in detail the many factors that bear upon the child's vulnerability. Also listed are the numerous stressful decisions and procedures typically associated with the processing of the case in the criminal justice system. This paper proposes a multifaceted, integrated agency response to reported child sexual abuse; the use of a different approach to intrafamilial abuse than that used in a case of predatory stranger abuse; consideration of diversionary programs or civil-based restraining orders to preserve the socioeconomic circumstances of the family while ensuring the ongoing safety and protection of the child; and consideration of sentencing and diversionary alternatives that are treatment-based.
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child development; Child Sexual Abuse; Children in the courtroom; Criminal Justice System Response to Victims; Foreign courts; Foreign laws; Psychological victimization effects; Victim reactions to the Criminal Justice System; Witness Reactions to the Criminal Justice System
Note: Paper presented at the Child Sexual Abuse: Justice Response or Alternative Resolution Conference held in Adelaide, Australia, May 1-2, 2003; downloaded November 6, 2003.
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