Exploring the Influence of Reporting Delay on Criminal Justice Outcomes: Comparing Child and Adult Reporters of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Lisa A. Bunting*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
355 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Delay between disclosure and reporting child sexual abuse is common and has significant implications for the prosecution of such offenses. While we might expect the relationship to be a linear one with longer delay reducing the likelihood of prosecution, the present study confirms a more complex interaction. Utilizing data from 2,079 police records in Northern Ireland, the study investigated the impact of reporting delay on pretrial criminal justice outcomes for child and adult reporters of child sexual abuse. While teenagers were found to be the group most disadvantaged by reporting delay, increased delay actually appeared advantageous for some groups, notably adult females reporting offenses that occurred when they were 0 to 6 years old. Conversely, adult males reporting child sexual abuse did not appear to benefit from increased delay, suggesting both an adult and gender bias within decision-making processes. The implications for future research are discussed. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-594
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Volume23
Issue number5
Early online date12 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • case detection
  • child sexual abuse
  • crime detection
  • delayed reporting
  • historic abuse
  • pretrial decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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