Gendered Perceptions of Sexual Abuse: Investigating the Effect of Offender, Victim and Observer Gender on the Perceived Seriousness of Child Sexual Abuse

Banton, Olivia and West, Keon. 2020. Gendered Perceptions of Sexual Abuse: Investigating the Effect of Offender, Victim and Observer Gender on the Perceived Seriousness of Child Sexual Abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 29(3), pp. 247-262. ISSN 1053-8712 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Sexual abuse of children is a pervasive, global issue. Perpetrators of this kind of abuse are often stereotyped as male, meaning that research comparing perceptions of abuse by male versus female offenders is limited. This is an important omission as recent evidence attests to the unexpectedly high frequency of sexual crimes perpetrated by women. The gender of child sex abuse victims and observers of abuse have also been shown to impact perceptions of the offense. Thus, the present study aimed to explore the effect of offender, victim and observer gender on the perceived seriousness of an act of child sex abuse. To do this, we used a 2 (offender gender: male vs female) × 2 (victim gender: male vs female) × 2 (observer gender: male vs female) between-participants experimental design. We presented members of the British public (N = 213) with a vignette describing a hypothetical interaction between an offender and victim and asked them how serious they thought the offense was. They then reported their own gender. We found that abuse was considered more serious when the offender was male, or the observer was female. We also found a novel three-way interaction. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1080/10538712.2019.1663967

Keywords:

Child sexual abuse; offendergender; victim gender;observer gender; perceivedseriousness

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
15 August 2019Accepted
16 October 2019Published Online
2020Published

Item ID:

28274

Date Deposited:

19 Mar 2020 12:53

Last Modified:

16 Oct 2020 02:15

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28274

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