Investigating perceptions of child sexual abuse

Hatton, Victoria (2017) Investigating perceptions of child sexual abuse. DForenPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The aim of this research was to investigate perceptions of child sexual abuse (CSA), particularly the perceptions held by CSA perpetrators and the public. Given the influence perceptions can have on a CSA victim’s wellbeing and disclosure behaviour, and a CSA perpetrator’s sexual recidivism risk, gaining insight into these perceptions was considered important.


To facilitate this investigation, a multifaceted approach was adopted. This commenced with chapter one, a systematic literature review, which aimed to identify which factors influence English and Welsh perceptions of CSA victims. The second chapter comprised an empirical research project which aimed to investigate the influence of a victim’s abuse history, victim-perpetrator relationship and a perpetrator’s gender on British perceptions of CSA. These three factors were selected due to their hypothesised influence on perceptions and lack of investigation. Following this, chapter three was completed which involved a critique of the Gudjonsson Blame Attribution Inventory-Revised (GBAI-R). This was to assess the inventory’s suitability for chapter four and to inform practitioners of its utility. Finally, chapter four entailed a case study which aimed to investigate whether a CSA perpetrator’s offence-specific minimisation could be reduced. This was facilitated by completing a six-session intervention on an individual basis.


This thesis revealed various findings. Specifically, chapter one revealed respondent gender influences public perceptions of CSA victims as males perceived CSA victims more negatively than females. Regarding chapter two, a victim’s abuse history, victim-perpetrator relationship and a perpetrator’s gender were not found to influence British perceptions of CSA. However, similar to chapter one, females were significantly more pro-victim compared to males. In chapter three, the critique identified some evidence of the GBAI-R being psychometrically sound and utilising an efficient administration methodology. Despite this, some concerns were raised regarding the representativeness of its normative data and the inventory’s susceptibility to extreme scores. Finally, chapter four revealed some evidence of the intervention reducing the perpetrator’s offence-specific minimisation although it was not possible to firmly conclude this.


The findings highlight the need for further research into perceptions of CSA. This should include investigations into why males are less pro-victim compared to females and the impact this might have on CSA. Research should also continue to investigate the influence of a victim’s abuse history, victim-perpetrator relationship and a perpetrator’s gender on perceptions of CSA. As part of this research a more representative sample should be recruited to enable the generalisation of findings. A more comprehensive critique of the GBAI-R should also be facilitated as well as further investigations into minimisation.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DForenPsy)
Supervisors: Duff, S.C.
Keywords: Child sexual abuse; Public opinion; Attitudes of offenders
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 41986
Depositing User: Hatton, Victoria
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 13:19
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 12:31

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