Children's Allegations of Sexual Abuse: A Model for Forensic Assessment

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It is important both clinically and forensically to gain information to provide an understanding of the veracity of a child's allegations of sexual abuse. Even though it is reasonable to hypothesize that most allegations are true—children are not infallible and thus some allegations are false. A systematic model of pathways to false allegations—however rare or common—is important because so much depends on this question (i.e., both false positives and false negatives are harmful to children). We propose that there are two major pathways to false allegations of child sexual abuse: (1) the child is lying and (2) the child has a false memory due to his or her problems in information processing. We conclude by presenting a more detailed protocol for more formally evaluating these pathways to false allegations in specific cases.

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O’Donohue, William, Lorraine Benuto, and Matthew Fanetti. "Children’s allegations of sexual abuse: A model for forensic assessment." Psychological injury and law 3, no. 2 (2010): 148-154.

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