Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Variables Associated with the Nature of Sexual Abuse to Minors

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Variables Associated with the Nature of Sexual Abuse to Minors

Article excerpt

This study analyzes the prevalence and characteristics of childhood and adolescence sexual abuse suffered by a sample of university students, as well as the variables associated with the nature of abuse. Participants anonymously completed the Questionnaire on Child Sexual Abuse, in order to obtain information about experience of sexual abuse. Of a total of 2,375 students, 289 (12.2%) declared having suffered sexual abuse before the age of 18. The invasiveness, continuity, and severity of abuse was related to the location where the abuse took place (the more severe cases were committed in the homes of the victim and perpetrator) and to the circumstances of abuse (relationships with partners/at a party or while caring for a child predicted more severe abuse). The age of the victim (preschool) and an intra-familial relationship between victim and perpetrator were also related to more invasive, continuous, and severe sexual abuse. The knowledge of characteristics of perpetrator and victim and the context in which sexual abuse occurs can help to better comprehend the nature and correlates of sexual abuse. The results of the present study may contribute to the design of programs for the prevention of sexual abuse to minors.

Keywords: child sexual abuse, prevalence, severity of sexual abuse, perpetrators, victims.

El estudio analiza la prevalencia y características del abuso sexual infantil y adolescente en una muestra de estudiantes universitarios, así como las variables relacionadas con la naturaleza del abuso. Los participantes contestaron de forma anónima al Cuestionario sobre Abuso Sexual Infantil para obtener información sobre la experiencia de abuso sexual. De un total de 2.375 estudiantes, 289 (12,2%) manifestaron haber sufrido abuso sexual antes de los 18 años. La invasividad, continuidad y gravedad del abuso se relacionaban con el lugar donde se había producido (los casos más graves fueron los cometidos tanto en el hogar de la víctima como del perpetrador) y con las circunstancias del abuso (relaciones con parejas/en una fiesta o mientras se cuida el niño predecían los abusos más graves). La edad de la víctima (preescolar) y la relación intrafamiliar entre víctima y perpetrador también se relacionaban con un abuso sexual más invasivo, continuado y grave. El conocimiento de las características del perpetrador y de la víctima y el contexto en el que ocurre el abuso sexual pueden ayudar a comprender mejor la naturaleza y los correlatos del abuso sexual. Los resultados de esta investigación pueden contribuir al diseño de programas para la prevención del abuso sexual a menores.

Palabras clave: abuso sexual infantil, prevalencia, gravedad del abuso sexual, perpetradores, víctimas.

The sexual abuse of children is common to all societies, and studies have reported high rates (between 3-36%) among the general population, suffered by approximately 20% of females and 7.4% of males (Fanslow, Robinson, Crengle, & Perese, 2007; Pereda, Guilera, Forns, & Gómez- Benito, 2009). However, the prevalence rate of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse) found in different countries and cultures vary considerably (Briere & Elliott, 2003; Gault-Sherman, Silver, & Sigfúsdóttir, 2009; Pereda et al., 2009; Priebe & Svedin, 2009; Speizer, Goodwin, Whittle, Clyde, & Rogers, 2008; Ulibarri, Ulloa, & Camacho, 2009).

The prevalence in Spain (López, Carpintero, Hernández, Martín, & Fuertes, 1995) has been reported to be 18% in the total population, with 15.2% in males and 22.5% in females, figures very similar to those of other western countries in the case of women, though higher in the case of men. More recently, Pereda and Forns (2007), in a study carried out with students from the University of Barcelona, reported a prevalence rate of 15.5% of males and 19% of females. These percentages were higher than those of a previous investigation with Basque students (De Paúl, Milner, & Múgica, 1995), in which rates of 9. …

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