Applying a Research-Based Assessment Model to Child Sexual Abuse Investigations: Model and Case Descriptions of an Expert Center

March 2018

Taina Laajasalo, Julia Korkman, Tom Pakkanen, Merja Oksanen, Lampenius
Tuulikki, Emma Peltomaa & Eeva T. Aronen

The aims of this study were twofold: First, to describe a comprehensive assessment model utilized in a center specializing in child sexual abuse (CSA) investigations, and second, to describe the nature and characteristics of the families and allegations assessed, and analyze how case characteristics are related to the assessment outcomes of the CSA allegations. The sample consisted of 145 children who participated in a forensic CSA investigation between 2006 and 2011 at the Forensic Psychology Center in Helsinki University Central Hospital. Variables related to family characteristics and the alleged CSA were assessed. In the majority of the cases, the allegation was not substantiated, while a quarter of the allegations remained inconclusive. CSA was confirmed in 17% of the cases. Most of the investigated children and their families had several psychosocial risk factors in their background. The children and families involved in CSA investigations seemed to be a high-risk group in terms of psychiatric symptoms and multiple family background adversities. These were, however, unrelated to the assessment outcome. The importance of using a hypothesis testing approach is discussed, as well as how this can be done in practice.

Find the article on ResearchGate.