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12-08-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2020

Parental Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Prevention: Barriers and Challenges

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2020
Auteurs:
Jennifer A. Livingston, Kathleen P. Allen, Amanda B. Nickerson, Kelly A. O’Hern
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Abstract

This study examined parental perspectives on educating children about child sexual abuse (CSA) and personal safety. Twenty-four focus groups consisting of 144 parents or guardians (89% female) of children between the ages of 3 and 11 years were conducted in four areas of the U.S. (Northeast, Southeast, Mid-West, West). Parents were recruited through schools and community agencies. Participants viewed the family videos from the Second Step Child Protection Unit and then discussed their perspectives on parenting and sexual abuse prevention. The conversations were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed qualitatively using a thematic approach. A major theme was that parents encountered barriers and challenges in their efforts to protect children and educate them about CSA. These included ambiguous safety messages for children; denial that their child could be at risk; personal discomfort with the topic; fear of ruining their child’s innocence; and limitations imposed by gender role stereotypes. Additional challenges emerged from a sub-sample of groups from low-resourced communities. Many of these parents described challenges in overcoming intergenerational abuse and the culture of silence that surrounds it; fear of reporting CSA due to mistrust of authorities; and lack of options for safe child care. Results suggest that prevention programming should be tailored to the communities in which it will be presented, with attention given to reducing ambiguities in messaging and improving access to resources in low-resourced communities. Findings are interpreted within the framework of Protection Motivation Theory.

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