Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor(s)

Cynthia Calkins

Committee Members

Elizabeth Jeglic

Michele Galietta

Karen Terry

Karyn Smarz

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Criminology | Other Psychology

Keywords

sexual violence, child sexual abuse, situational crime prevention, sex crime, sex offender, child sexual abuse prevention

Abstract

Given that sex offenders tend to perpetrate crimes against people they know (e.g., Greenfield, 1997) and first encounter victims in residential locations (Colombino, Mercado, Levenson, & Jeglic, 2011), it is important that research examine the circumstances of sexual offenses within residential settings. Although previous research has examined the perpetration patterns of sexual offenses against children, especially related to grooming tactics (e.g., Conte, Wolf, & Smith, 1989) and situational factors (e.g., Wortley & Smallbone, 2006), there are few studies that specifically examine the correlates of child sexual abuse within residential settings. This type of data would allow for the development of empirically supported strategies that work to prevent sex crimes against children where they most often occur. Further, there is little to no research that has examined the role and activities of the child’s legal guardian within the context of child sexual abuse. Because children are not in the best position to prevent perpetration (Kaufman, Mosher, Carter, & Estes, 2006), it is important to understand how the child’s guardian may help inform prevention strategies. Using interview data obtained from both an offender and victim sample, the current study examined situational and structural components of the offense location, as well as factors related to the legal guardian, to provide a comprehensive examination of child sexual abuse in residential locations. Descriptive analyses revealed that sex offenses most often occurred in the offender’s bedroom (20.9%). Although, at least one other person tended to be in the home during the offense (64.6%), the legal guardian was present in only 29% of cases. Despite others’ presence in the home, there were specific barriers that prevented someone from witnessing the offense. Suggestions for child sexual abuse prevention are discussed.

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