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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222539 Find in a Library
Title: Trajectories of Abuse and Disclosure: Child Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:35  Issue:5  Dated:May 2008  Pages:570-582
Author(s): Margaret Leland Smith; Andres F. Rengifo; Brenda K. Vollman
Date Published: May 2008
Page Count: 13
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study identified and compared trajectories of occurrences of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States ("event structure") and trajectories of the disclosure of the abuse events ("reporting structure").
Abstract: Data obtained from an institutional census of records of abuse between 1950 and 2002 showed a steady increase in child sexual abuse by priests through the late 1970s and early 1980s, followed by a surge in reporting in the mid-1990s and again in 2002. These patterns were stable throughout all regions of the Catholic Church in the United States. Despite data that show the incidence of abuse to have increased steadily between 1950 and 1980 and to have fallen sharply by 1990, most of these abuse events were unknown to civil authorities or church leaders before the year 2000. Between 1950 and 1985, the number of incidents of sexual abuse of children by priests that had been reported to Catholic dioceses in the United States was 810; the total now reported to have occurred in that period exceeds 9,000. Ninety percent of the almost 3,000 incidents reported in 2002 occurred more than 20 years earlier. Both male and female victims of all ages were equally represented in the pattern of delayed reporting. Generally, prior research on disclosure does not help explain the patterns of data that show the pattern of delayed reporting by victims of the priests' sexual abuse. The data for this study were obtained from three surveys for the dioceses and religious institutes of the Catholic Church: a diocesan survey, a cleric survey, and a victim survey. The victim survey addressed the first date of the occurrence of abuse incidents, its last date, and the date of the report to church or civil authorities. 5 tables, 3 figures, and 19 references
Main Term(s): Child abuse reporting; Juvenile victims; Religion
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Citizen crime reporting; Crime patterns; Institutional child abuse
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