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12. Interviewing victims and suspected victims who are reluctant to talk.
APSAC (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children) Advisor (2013)
  • Irit Irit Hershkowitz, University of Haifa
  • Michael E. Lamb, University of Cambridge
  • Thomas D. Lyon, University of Southern California
Most professionals know that many alleged victims do not disclose abuse when formally interviewed and that disclosure is affected by a variety of factors, among which the relationship between suspects and children appears to be especially important (see Pipe, Lamb, Orbach, & Cederborg, 2007, for reviews). Children––especially boys and preschoolers––are hesitant to report abuse by parents and guardians, particularly when sexual rather than physical abuse is suspected. For example, Pipe, Lamb, Orbach, Stewart, Sternberg, and Esplin (2007) reported that only 38% of the preschoolers interviewed disclosed sexual abuse by a parent even when the allegations were independently substantiated by corroborative evidence. Indeed, only 12% of the preschool-aged boys included in Hershkowitz, Horowitz, and Lamb’s (2005) analysis of Israeli national statistics disclosed suspected (not necessarily substantiated) sexual abuse by parents. Even though some nondisclosure by preschoolers may be attributable to immaturity rather than reluctance (Sjöberg & Lindblad, 2002), substantial evidence indicates that large percentages of older abused children will deny abuse as well (Pipe, Lamb, Orbach, & Cederborg, 2007). Laboratory experiments have shown how easy it is to induce denials among children who have themselves transgressed (Lewis, Stanger, & Sullivan, 1989; Polak & Harris, 1999; Talwar, Lee, Bala, & Lindsay, 2002), have witnessed the transgression of others (Bottoms, Goodman, Schwartz-Kenney, & Thomas, 2002; Ceci & Leichtman, 1992; Pipe & Wilson, 1994; Talwar, Lee, Bala, & Lindsay, 2004), or have been jointly implicated in wrongdoing (Lyon & Dorado, 2008; Lyon, Malloy, Quas, & Talwar, 2008).
  • child witnesses,
  • child abuse,
  • child neglect,
  • child maltreatment,
  • child development,
  • child psychology
Publication Date
December, 2013
Citation Information
Lamb, M. E., Hershkowitz, I., & Lyon, T. D. (2013). Interviewing victims and suspected victims who are reluctant to talk. APSAC Advisor, 25(4), 16-19.