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Scope of the problem of child sexual abuse

Scope of the problem of child sexual abuse In 1997, the General Accounting Office (GAO) concluded that “focuses on such topics
as the causes and effects of child sexual abuse” are mostly irrelevant to “most local agencies’ attempts to reform their services” (“GAO Calls For,” p. 132). Instead, this
book has demonstrated conclusively that this basic research must underlie reforms, for its current services are so far removed from the reality of child sexual abuse as to be
almost absurd. Thus, calls for ongoing basic research are absolutely critical to effectively respond to the problem of child sexual abuse. Research that is needed for
developing and extending the empirical knowledge base is as follows.
Many gaps in the knowledge base concerning the scope of the problem remain. First, national random prevalence studies
with rigorous methodology sensitive to eliciting disclosures of abuse should be funded. While some rigorous random surveys have been conducted, they are either
dated, are community-based samples, or have such small sample sizes that their findings cannot be generalized with confidence. Of the few available national surveys,
limitations of the studies preclude reliable estimates. Thus, we still cannot reliably estimate the national prevalence of child sexual abuse for males and females.
Complementary studies assessing the prevalence of offenders within community populations and the likelihood to abuse are also needed. Because juvenile offenders
account for 20% to 50% of all offenders (Davis & Leitenberg, 1987; Fehrenbach,Smith, Monastersky, & Deisher, 1986), studies should also assess juvenile populations.
These studies need to have a broad enough definition of child sexual abuse that it captures all types of motivations for sexual abuse, including children or adolescents
who abuse for sport or conquest, or simply out of a sense of entitlement.

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