A protocol for the empowerment of non–offending parents to report child sexual abuse
The statistics of child sexual abuse is alarmingly high. Even though this is the case, further statistics prove that a great percentage of parents do not ever report the sexual abuse of their child. This study focuses on describing and exploring nonoffending parents' experiences regarding suspicions of or disclosure of their child’s sexual abuse to ultimately formulate a proposed protocol for the empowerment of non–offending parents to report the abuse. This proposed protocol can be used by health professionals to empower parents to report and will contribute to the intervention strategies in forensic investigations. As research methodology, the qualitative approach was utilized to investigate nonoffending parents' experiences regarding suspicions of or disclosure of their child’s sexual abuse and to explore and describe a protocol of guidelines to empower nonoffending parents to report child sexual abuse. The case study method was used as a research strategy to accomplish these aims. Ten interviews and a focus group were conducted during which an interview schedule focussing on the parents' reactions, perceived support, and experiences of reporting was employed. The schedule was presented based on the following themes: Theme 1: Finding out about the sexual abuse Theme 2: Reactions of the parents Theme 3: Support Theme 4: Reporting the child's sexual abuse Theme 5: Parents' experiences of the reporting process Theme 6: Suggestions to make the reporting process easier Subthemes, as elicited by these themes, were explored and described in order to contribute towards the formulation of an appropriate protocol that would empower parents to report child sexual abuse. It became clear that parents experience a vast array of emotions upon finding out or having suspicions of their child's sexual abuse. The parents who participated in this study indicated the need for support on different levels– it was proposed that more support might subsequently increase reporting rates. The parents involved in this study were in agreement that the reporting process is extremely taxing and, based on this, various aspects that could help make the reporting of child sexual abuse easier for parents were explored. Further recommendations to empower parents to report child sexual abuse were also made. The data from the interviews was analyzed and a protocol to empower non–offending parents to report child sexual abuse was formulated.
- ETD@PUK