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Decline in Sexual Abuse Cases

Principal Investigator: Delphine Collin-Vézina
Co-Investigators:            N. Trocmé, C. Walsh
Funding Source:              Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada
Period:                                 2009-2014

Rates of sexual abuse reported to and substantiated by Child Protection Services (CPS) have dropped by nearly a third in Canada, from 0.89 per 1,000 children in 1998 to 0.62 in 2003 (Trocmé et al., 2001; 2005). Although we would hope that this decline reflects a true diminution of SA perpetrated on children in the population, it is also possible that victims and non-offending parents are less likely than before to disclose abuse to authorities, and/or that changes in the management of sexual abuse cases by CPS could explain this decline. The present study, based on the work of Finkelhor & Jones (2004), seeks to explore various potential sources of explanations for the decline in sexual abuse investigations by CPS in Canada, including: (1) stricter measures to retain sexual abuse cases reported to CPS, (2) a reduction in CPS involvement in some sexual abuse cases and (3) increasing reserve to report sexual abuse to authorities. In the course of the year 2010-2011, data was collected from 60 survivors of child sexual abuse from two Canadian provinces (Quebec, Ontario) to explore the factors that facilitated or inhibited their disclosure processes. Qualitative analysis was initiated.