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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 144841 Find in a Library
Journal: Journal of Child Sexual Abuse  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:(1992)  Pages:113- 116
Author(s): C B Schudson
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 4
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In divorce, custody, or visitation disputes, one parent sometimes accuses the other parent of sexually abusing the child, and this article looks at whether there is any basis for viewing child sexual abuse allegations differently when they seem to emerge from an antagonistic legal relationship of parents.
Abstract: Child sexual abuse allegations surfacing in family court battles may be viewed more skeptically than other child sexual abuse allegations found in juvenile and criminal courts for two valid reasons. First, a vengeful parent may regard the allegation as a way of gaining advantage in a custody or visitation dispute, or at least as a means to harass an ex-spouse. Second, a false allegation can enter a family court untested, without passing through appropriate investigation and review by police, social workers, and prosecutors who typically screen juvenile and criminal cases. In actuality, allegations of sexual abuse occur in only about 2 percent of custody and visitation disputes, and most are substantiated. Children of separated and divorced parents are often more vulnerable and more likely to be abused than children living with both parents. In some cases, a parent's emotional needs and sexual desires, partially resulting from separation, may contribute to sexual abuse of the child. In other cases in which abuse preceded the parents' separation, the child may finally disclose the abuse to the nonabusing parent. In still other cases, the parent who knew of abuse during the marriage may finally reveal the abuse. While reasonable concern should be voiced about the motives and allegations of antagonistic parents locked in legal disputes over children, courts should not reach the unsupported conclusion that parents will always falsely allege abuse. All allegations of child sexual abuse must be evaluated in a thorough and sensitive manner to separate the few false allegations from the many true allegations. 6 references
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse
Index Term(s): Child custody; Child victims; Courts; Sexual assault victims; Victims of Crime
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