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Journal Issue: Sexual Abuse of Children Volume 4 Number 2 Summer/Fall 1994

Current Information on the Scope and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse
David Finkelhor


  1. Sedlak, A. National incidence and prevalence of child abuse and neglect: 1988. Revised report. Rockville, MD: Westat, 1991.
  2. McCurdy, K., and Daro, D. Current trends in child abuse reporting and fatalities: The results of the 1993 annual fifty-state survey. Working Paper No. 808. Prepared by the National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research. Chicago: National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, April 1994.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. National child abuse and neglect data system: 1992 summary data component. Working Paper No. 3. Washington, DC: DHHS, 1994.
  4. Ards, S., and Harrell, A. Reporting of child maltreatment: A secondary analysis of the national surveys of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press, 1991.
  5. Daro, D., and McCurdy, K. Current trends in child abuse reporting and fatalities: The results of the 1990 annual fifty-state survey. Prepared by the National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research. Chicago: National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, 1991.
  6. Russell, D.E.H. The secret trauma: Incest in the lives of girls and women. New York: Basic Books, 1986.
  7. Bagley, C. Child sexual abuse in Canada: Further analysis of the 1983 national survey. Ottawa: Federal Department of Health and Welfare, 1988.
  8. Bagley, C., and Ramsay, R. Sexual abuse in childhood: Psychosocial outcomes and implications for social work practice. Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality (1985-86) 4:33–47.
  9. Bagley, C. The prevalence and mental health sequels of child abuse in a community sample of women aged 18-27. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health (1991) 10,1:103–16.
  10. Elliott, D.M., and Briere, J. Sexual abuse trauma among professional women: Validating the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40). Child Abuse & Neglect (1992) 16:391–98.
  11. Essock-Vitale, S., and McGuire, M. Women's lives viewed from an evolutionary perspective: I. Sexual histories, reproductive success, and demographic characteristics of a random sample of American women. Ethology and Sociobiology (1985) 6:137–54.
  12. Finkelhor, D. Child sexual abuse: New theory and research. New York: Free Press, 1984.
  13. Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I.A., and Smith, C. Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect (1990) 14:19–28.
  14. George, L., and Winfield-Laird, I. Sexual assault: Prevalence and mental health consequences. Unpublished final report submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health for supplemental funding to the Duke University Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program, March 1986. Revised December 1986.
  15. Keckley Market Research. Sexual abuse in Nashville: A report on incidence and long-term effects. Unpublished paper prepared for WSMV-TV, March 1983.
  16. Kercher, G., and McShane, M. The prevalence of child sexual abuse victimization in an adult sample of Texas residents. Child Abuse & Neglect (1984) 8:495–501.
  17. Moore, K., Nord, C., and Peterson, J. Nonvoluntary sexual activity among adolescents. Family Planning Perspectives (1989) 21,3:110–14.
  18. Murphy, J. Prevalence of child sexual abuse and consequent victimization in the general population. Paper presented at the Third National Family Violence Research Conference. Durham: University of New Hampshire, July 1987.
  19. Russell, D. The incidence and prevalence of intrafamilial and extrafamilial sexual abuse of female children. Child Abuse & Neglect (1983) 7:133–46.
  20. Saunders, B., Kilpatrick, D., Lipovsky, J., et al. Prevalence, case characteristics, and longterm psychological effects of child sexual assault among women: A national survey. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. Toronto, March 25, 1991.
  21. Siegel, J., Sorenson, S., Golding, J., et al. The prevalence of childhood sexual assault: The Los Angeles epidemiologic catchment area project. American Journal of Epidemiology (1986) 126:1141–53.
  22. Springs, F., and Friedrich, W. Health risk behaviors and medical sequelae of childhood sexual abuse. Mayo Clinic Proceedings (1992) 67:527–32.
  23. Wilsnack, S.C., Klassen, A.D., Vogeltanz, N.D., and Harris, T.R. Childhood sexual abuse and women's substance abuse: National survey findings. Paper presented to the American Psychological Association conference on Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors in Women's Health. Washington, DC, May 12–14, 1994.
  24. Wolf, J. Adult reports of sexual abuse during childhood: Results of a statewide telephone survey in Kentucky. Paper presented at the 47th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. St. Petersburg Beach, FL, May 15-19, 1992.
  25. Wyatt, G.E. The sexual abuse of Afro-American and white American women in childhood. Child Abuse & Neglect (1985) 9:507–19.
  26. Timnick, L. Children's abuse reports reliable, most believe. Los Angeles Times. August 26, 1985, at Al. Of those surveyed, 22% were child abuse victims.
  27. Kilpatrick, D., Edmunds, C., and Seymour, A. Rape in America: A report to the nation. Arlington, VA: National Victim Center, 1992.
  28. Saunders, B. The topography of child rape in America: Results from the national women's study. Paper presented at the Association for the Behavioral Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Portland, OR, October 7–10, 1992.
  29. These figures are different from those cited in the original report (Badgley, R., Allard, H., McCormick, N., et al. Sexual offenses against children. Ottawa: Canadian Government Publishing Centre, 1984) or the 1986 review (see note no. 31), but are based on a careful reanalysis and correction performed by Bagley (see note no. 7).
  30. Finkelhor, D. The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect (1994) 18:409–17.
  31. Peters, S.D., Wyatt, G.E., and Finkelhor, D. Prevalence. In A sourcebook on child sexual abuse. D. Finkelhor, ed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1986, pp. 15–59.
  32. Leventhal, J. Epidemiology of child sexual abuse. In Understanding and managing child sexual abuse. R.K. Oates, ed. Sydney: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Group, 1990, pp. 18–41.
  33. Some critics have attacked Russell's study for a response rate of only 50%. However, this response rate was calculated using the most conservative formula possible (treating as nonrespondents all persons whose eligibility could not be ascertained) and is not that much worse than the norm for survey research for such samples. There is not much evidence from the studies on sexual abuse or survey research in general that a relatively low response rate would result in a wildly exaggerated estimate.
  34. Leventhal, J. Have there been changes in the epidemiology of sexual abuse of children during the 20th century? Pediatrics (1988) 82:766–73.
  35. Another review of prevalence studies (see note no. 48) concluded that the prevalence for women was between 10% and 13%. However, this study counted only abuse to girls under age 14 by persons at least five years older. It also excluded from consideration studies such as Russell (note no. 19) and Finkelhor et al. (note no. 13) for questionable reasons and based its conclusion on three studies, including Kinsey (which had a nonrandom, partly volunteer sample) and Siegel (note no. 21, which had a single screener question at the end of a long and tiring general mental health questionnaire).
  36. See note no. 12, Finkelhor, pp. 153–56.
  37. Murphy, J. Telephone surveys and family violence: Data from Minnesota. Paper presented at the Responses to Family Violence Conference. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University, January 1988.
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  40. Koss, M. Detecting the scope of rape: A review of prevalence research methods. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (1993) 8,2:198–222.
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  42. Gomes-Schwartz, B., Horowitz, J.M., Cardarelli, A.P., and Sauzier, M. The aftermath of child sexual abuse: 18 months later. In Child sexual abuse: The initial effects. B. Gomes-Schwartz, J.M. Horowitz, and A.P. Cardarelli, eds. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990, pp. 132–52.
  43. Russell, D. The prevalence and seriousness of incestuous abuse: Stepfathers vs. biological fathers. Child Abuse & Neglect (1984) 8:15–22.
  44. Browne, A, and Finkelhor, D. Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the research. Psychological Bulletin (1986) 99:66–77.
  45. Everson, M., and Boat, B. False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (1989) 28,2:230–35.
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  50. Eckenrode, J., Powers, J., Doris, J., et al. Substantiation of child abuse and neglect reports. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1988) 56,1:9–16.
  51. Finkelhor, D., and Williams, L. Nursery crimes: Sexual abuse in day care. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1988.
  52. Chapman, J., and Smith, B. Child sexual abuse: An analysis of case processing. Washington, DC: American Bar Association, 1987.
  53. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Tracking offenders: The child victim. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 1984.
  54. Whitcomb, D., Runyan, D., De Vos, E., et al. at the Education Development Center. Child victim as witness, research and development program. Final report. Prepared for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1991.
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  58. Allen, C. Women and men who sexually abuse children: A comparative study. Orwell, VT: Safer Society Press, 1991.
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  61. Risin, L., and Koss, M. The sexual abuse of boys: Prevalence and descriptive characteristics of childhood victimizations. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (1987) 2,3:309–23.
  62. Faller, K. Women who sexually abuse children. Violence and Victims (1987) 2,4:263–76.
  63. Mathews, R., Matthews, J., and Speltz, K. Female sexual offenders: An exploratory study. Orwell, VT: Safer Society Press, 1989.
  64. Finkelhor, D., and Baron, L. High-risk children. In A sourcebook on child sexual abuse. D. Finkelhor, ed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1986, pp. 60-88.
  65. Bolton, F., Morris, L., and MacEachron, A. Males at risk: The other side of child sexual abuse. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1989.
  66. Urquiza, A. The effects of childhood sexual abuse in an adult male population. University of Washington, Seattle. Doctoral dissertation, 1988.
  67. Finkelhor, D. Early and long-term effects of child sexual abuse: An update. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (1990) 21:325–30.
  68. Bagley, C., Wood, M., and Young, L. Victim to abuser: Mental health and behavioral sequels of child sexual abuse in a community survey of young adult males. Child Abuse & Neglect. In press.
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  76. Collings, S. Childhood sexual abuse in a sample of South African university males: Prevalence and risk factors. South African Journal of Psychology (1991) 21:153–58.
  77. Finkelhor, D., and Dziuba-Leatherman, J. Victimization prevention programs: A national survey of children's exposure and reactions. Child Abuse & Neglect. In press.
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