Faculty Colloquium: Meredyth Edelson

Please join us on Friday, November 30th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for this week’s Faculty Colloquium being presented by Meredyth Goldberg Edelson, Professor of Psychology.

TITLE:
Why have all the boys gone? Gender differences in prosecution acceptance of child sexual abuse cases.

ABSTRACT:
Cases of child sexual abuse (CSA) referred to the District Attorney (DA) are not necessarily accepted for prosecution. Two pilot studies sought to investigate whether there were gender differences in whether cases of CSA referred to the DA’s office were accepted by the DA and, if they existed, what might account for gender differences in decisions to accept cases and file charges. The results of the first study indicated that cases involving male victims were significantly less likely to be accepted for prosecution than cases involving female victims. Comparisons of acceptance rates were based on expected frequencies given CSA prevalence rates by gender in the literature and on the proportion of males and females seen at a Child Abuse Assessment Center (CAAC) from where the DA referrals were obtained. The second study assessed both disclosure-related variables (assessed by content analyses of disclosures made at a CAAC) and abuse-related variables (that occurred at or near the time of the abuse) that might explain these differences. Few variables were found to significantly differentiate males’ and females’ cases; these were the relationship of the child to the perpetrator, whether the child was offended by a juvenile, whether the child told someone of the abuse, pornography exposure, whether the child displayed concerning behaviors, and whether the child was questioned about possible abuse. Implications of these results are discussed.