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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77607 Find in a Library
Title: Child Sex Initiation Rings
Journal: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry  Volume:51  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:110-119
Author(s): A W Burgess; A N Groth; M P McCausland
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The workings of child sex initiation rings and their impact on victims are outlined in a study of 36 prepubescent boys and girls involved in 6 such rings.
Abstract: In a child sex ring, at least one adult is simultaneously involved with several victims who are all aware of each other's participation. If other adults are involved, they typically do not interact sexually with each other, but have parallel sexual relations with the children. The sample for this study consisted of 36 children ranging from 6 to 14 years old who were victim-witnesses in 6 cases which entered the criminal justice system between 1976 and 1978. All children were white, and most were from Catholic families. As part of a followup counseling program, victims and families were interviewed by telephone and at home using a standardized instrument. The adult offender in all cases occupied a position of authority and had access to the children which was not questioned by other adults. For example, offenders included a school bus driver and Boy Scout leaders. The children were made aware fairly quickly that sexual activity was part of the group membership and were initiated through exhibitionism and fondling. Peer pressures and competition were important factors in maintaining the group's cohesiveness. Brief descriptions of each ring and how they were discovered are provided. The data also showed that the child victims developed symptoms during the sexual activity as well as following disclosure, such as stomach aches, urinary tract infections, nightmares, minor mood swings, declining school performance, and aggressive behavior with peers. Most parents were totally surprised when told of the activities. Parents in four cases viewed the police as supportive and helpful, one group had a neutral reaction, and parents of another ring's victims were very upset with police methods. All offenders who were apprehended plea bargained to the charges. Long-range effects of child sexual victimization include sexual dysfunction, prostitution, and the possibility that the victim will become a sexual aggressor in adulthood. Approximately 20 references are appended.
Index Term(s): Child molesters; Child Sexual Abuse; Group behavior; Sex offenses; Sexual assault victims
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