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March, 2017


Child Abuse & Neglect - Editors Choice

View Articles published in Child Abuse & NeglectChristine WekerleThe Child Abuse & Neglect journal has a unique mandate to profile the international work on domains and contexts related to violence against children. 

Editor-in-Chief, Christine Wekerle, has selected ten articles which display the strength and depth of contributions to the journal.  See them here.



 Child sexual abuse in Japan: A systematic review and future directions




Estimating the national prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) and its association with health and developmental outcomes is the first step in developing prevention strategies. While such data are available from many countries, less is known about the epidemiology of CSA in Japan.


For this systematic review, we searched English databases: Embase, Ovid MEDLINE(R) In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid MEDLINE(R) Daily and Ovid MEDLINE(R), Ovid OLDMEDLINE(R), PsycINFO, and Japanese databases: Cinii, J-Stage, Children’s Rainbow Center Japan, Japan Child and Family Research Institute, Japanese Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect to identify articles published before July 2015 examining the lifetime prevalence of CSA in Japan using non-clinical samples. Data were extracted from published reports.


We initially identified 606 citations and after abstract review, retrieved 120 publications. Six studies that met the selection criteria and additional two relevant studies were reviewed. The range of contact CSA for females was 10.4%–60.7%, and the prevalence of this type of CSA for males was 4.1%. The range of penetrative CSA for females was 1.3%–8.3% and that for males was 0.5%–1.3%. A number of methodological issues were identified, including a lack of validated measures of CSA, and low response rates.


In contrast to a lower prevalence of penetrative CSA, the prevalence of contact CSA among Japanese females may be comparable or higher in relation to international estimates. Future research on children's perceptions of and exposure to sexual abuse, crime and exploitation in Japan is discussed.


Language disorders in victims of domestic violence in children’s homes

Studies that deal with child maltreatment have become relevant during these past years. One important aspect to consider is the impact of maltreatment on the cognitive functioning and more precisely on language. Our objective is to analyze the different components in the comprehension and production of language in children victims of domestic abuse in Childreńs Homes.


The sample consists of 104 participants divided in two groups. A group of children who have just been institutionalized due to domestic abuse (VG) (Age: 8 years 2 months with a standard deviation of 1, 5 years) without previous treatment; a group of comparison (CG) made up by children who have not been victim of domestic violence (Age: 8 years 6 months with a standard deviation of 2 years and a month), with similar characteristics of gender, age and schooling.


The Child Neuropsychological Assessment by Matute, Rosselli, Ardila and Ostrosky (2007) was applied. This test includes metalinguistic, oral and written comprehension and expression skills.


The VG group showed low scores in all components of the analyzed language with exception to the discourse, syllable and non-word dictation compared to the CG children.


The alterations of the language observed in these children semantic suggest a lack of consolidation of phonological coding and a low use of code. From our findings an early language evaluation in these children can be of especial interest to apply timely intervention programs with the aim of diminishing the impact caused by domestic violence on school failure which is a frequent trait in these children.


Defining reasonable force: Does it advance child protection?


Fifty-two countries have abolished all physical punishment of children, yet Canada has retained its criminal defense to ‘reasonable' corrective force. In 2004, Canada's Supreme Court attempted to set limits on punitive acts that can be considered reasonable under the law. In the present study, we examined the validity of these limits. If the court's limits provide adequate protection to children, most substantiated child maltreatment cases should exceed those limits. We operationalized each limit and applied it to a provincially representative sample of substantiated child physical maltreatment cases. We found that the majority of substantiated physical abuse cases fell within each of the court's limits. In more than one in four substantiated physical abuse cases, not even one of the court's limits was exceeded. The best predictor of whether a report was substantiated was whether spanking was typical in the child's home. The findings suggest that abolition of physical punishment would provide greater protection to children than attempts to set limits on its use.

Moving research beyond the spanking debate



Despite numerous studies identifying a broad range of harms associated with the use of spanking and other types of physical punishment, debate continues about its use as a form of discipline. In this commentary, we recommend four strategies to move the field forward and beyond the spanking debate including: 1) use of methodological approaches that allow for stronger causal inference; 2) consideration of human rights issues; 3) a focus on understanding the causes of spanking and reasons for its decline in certain countries; and 4) more emphasis on evidence-based approaches to changing social norms to reject spanking as a form of discipline. Physical punishment needs to be recognized as an important public health problem.


February, 2017

Child sexual abuse and exploitation—A global glimpse

The view of what constitutes child abuse and neglect is dependent on the laws, cultural context, local thresholds and the availability. Since 1982, the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) has conducted surveillance of child maltreatment and child protection every two years, published in World Perspectives on Child Abuse. It is hoped that up to date information will inform the development of laws, policies and programs to better address child abuse and neglect. This article is based on data on child sexual abuse and exploitation from 73 countries gathered online in 2015-16 for the 12 edition of World Perspectives. Respondents were key informants who were knowledgeable professionals in the child protection field. They were encouraged to consult with colleagues so as to provide accurate information. Countries were grouped into different regions of the world and into income level categories. The findings focus on definitions of abuse and neglect, laws, policies and programs to address and prevent maltreatment and barriers to prevention. It is evident that there is considerable variability across regions and country income categories, and that programs and services need to be considerably strengthened, even in high income countries.


January, 2017



Childhood sexual abuse, sexual motives, and adolescent sexual risk-taking among males and females receiving child welfare services

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is associated with multiple negative outcomes, including increased risky sexual behavior. To date, the majority of research on the relationship between CSA and risky sex in adolescence has been limited, with a lack of focus on males and youth receiving child welfare services. Participants in the current study were 297 youth (mean age = 15.98; SD = 1.01, 57.6% female) from the child welfare system who reported being sexually active at the time of the survey. CSA was associated with severity of other types of maltreatment for both genders, and exposure to intimate partner violence for females only. In general, males engaged in more sexual risk behaviors than females. Males with CSA had stronger motives to have sex for: (1) coping, (2) peer approval and (3) partner approval, as compared to non-CSA males; as well as (4) greater motives for partner and peer approval compared to females with CSA. Males with no CSA had stronger sexual motives for enhancement (e.g., feeling pleasure) compared to females with no CSA. Mediation analyses revealed a significant indirect effect for coping motives for males: CSA was associated with increased motives to use sex for coping which was associated with increased sexual risk-taking. These findings provide important information regarding the relationship between CSA and sexual risk-taking for child welfare sample and highlight coping with negative affect as a potential mechanism that underlies the CSA-risky sex relationship. It also encourages further consideration of motives for risk and resilience behaviors among youth.


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