ABSTRACT

Thousands of American children are substantiated as sexual abuse victims each year (DHHS, 2006a) with many more unreported or unconfirmed cases left in the hands of sexual perpetrators (Webster, O’Toole, O’Toole, & Lucal, 2005). It is estimated that nonfamily members sexually harm more than 11 percent of the annual established child abuse cases, either alone or with one or more of the victim’s caregivers (DHHS, 2006b). The rate of discontinuance and the risk and protective factors relating to the extrafamilial1 sex offender is currently only suggestive (Saleh & Guidry, 2003). A dominating issue around the paucity of child sexual abuse research is the public’s willingness to deny or minimize its existence. To illustrate, Hanson, Scott, and Steffy (1995) suggest that it is difficult for individuals to imagine their family’s friends or neighbors as sexual perpetrators. Rush (1996) proposed that sexual abuse accusations were thought to be oedipal acting out by female children. These and other examples are supported by estimates that 90 percent or more of sexual victimization goes unreported (Cheit & Freyd, 2005; Russell, 1983). Public policy relating to sex offenders and offending is often based on myths and misperceptions2 that can seriously undermine appropriate assessment and treatment3 (Sample & Bray, 2003).