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Boys Abused in a Community Setting: An Analysis of Gender, Relationship, and Delayed Prosecutions in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse

Patricia I Coburn, Madison B Harvey, Shelbie F Anderson, Heather L Price, Kristin Chong, Deborah A Connolly
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 2019 March 11, : 1-22
Previous research on gender differences and delay of disclosure of child sexual abuse is inconclusive; some research has found that male victims are more likely to delay disclosure than female victims, while other studies have found no gender difference. The present archival study investigated this inconsistency by examining factors that interact with delay. Judicial outcomes of child sexual abuse cases were coded (N = 4237) for variables related to the offense, the complainant-accused relationship, and court proceedings. Males and females differed with respect to delay only when the relationship between the complainant and the accused was established in the community (e.g., sports coach) or was a stranger to the child. When the accused was a parent, other relative, or a non-relative connected to the child through the family, there was no difference in delay between males and females. Further, males were more vulnerable in the community, as evidenced by a higher proportion of accused community members with male than female complainants, even though males represented fewer than 25% of cases in the database. These findings may help explain inconsistencies in gender differences in delayed disclosure. Implications regarding education about child sexual abuse are discussed, with a focus on male victims.


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