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Child Sexual Abuse - Reliability of Children

  • Even young children’s memories for certain types of events—especially ones involving their own bodies, such as those that figure in child sexual abuse—are quite accurate.
  • A child’s disclosure of sexual abuse is an important event in the subsequent investigation of the case, and it must be handled with sensitivity.
  • For younger children, the telling of the abuse may happen accidentally, slipping out in conversation with another child or adult. But for many children, the disclosure is painfully deliberate.
  • Children are likely to feel embarrassment about disclosing sexual abuse and may disguise their involvement by saying the abuse happened to a friend or sibling.
  • Finding a more private setting for following up with some observations (i.e. “Your friend must be feeling confused and upset by what is happening to her”) may allow the child to relax and give a fuller disclosure.