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: 218763 Find in a Library
Title: Child Abuse in the Eyes of the Beholder: Lay Perceptions of Child Sexual and Physical Abuse
Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect  Volume:31  Issue:4  Dated:April 2007  Pages:375-391
Author(s): Brian H. Bornstein; Debra L. Kaplan; Andrea R. Perry
Date Published: April 2007
Page Count: 17
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study explored the effects of various victim and perpetrator characteristics on university students’ and non-students’ perceptions of different types of child abuse.
Abstract: Results indicated that participants’ perceptions of abuse were impacted by all of the manipulated variables and the participant’s gender. Specifically, sexual abuse was considered more traumatic and severe if perpetrated by a parent rather than a babysitter. Homosexual abuse was rated as more traumatic and repressible than heterosexual abuse. Male participants were more impacted in their perceptions of abuse based on the gender of the perpetrator and the abuse type than were female participants. Female participants perceived the abuse as more severe and more likely to reoccur, and they were more believing of abuse victims than their male counterparts. The abuse of females was considered more severe and traumatic by both male and female participants and abuse perpetrated by a male was also perceived as more traumatic, severe, and repressible than abuse perpetrated by a female. The findings have implications for practice because it is possible that a clinician’s own beliefs about how severe, traumatic, or repressible different types of abuse are can influence the course of treatment. Future research should continue to shed light on stereotypes and expectations about child abuse. Participants were 199 university students and non-student adults who were recruited from a large midwestern university. Each student participant was asked to recruit one non-student adult into the study. Participants evaluated 24 vignettes/scenarios that described abusive interactions between children and adults. Four variables were manipulated in these vignettes: (1) victim’s gender; (2) perpetrator’s gender; (3) type of abuse (physical, mild sexual, and severe sexual); and (4) perpetrator’s relationship to the victim (parent or babysitter). Participants were asked to rate each vignette of several dimensions: (1) degree of trauma and severity; (2) likelihood of general occurrence and reoccurrence; (3) victim believability; and (4) “repressibility” of the event. Table, figures, references
Main Term(s): Child abuse; Child Sexual Abuse
Index Term(s): Attitudes toward victims; Perception; Public Opinion of Crime
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.