CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Professionals' Adherence to Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws: Effects of Responsibility Attribution, Confidence Ratings, and Situational Factors


This study investigated the relationship between responsibility attribution and tendency to report child sexual abuse among practicing psychologists. Two hundred ninety-five licensed psychologists from two states completed vignettes in which the sex of the child and the father's admission or denial of alleged sexual abuse were systematically manipulated. Subjects assigned relative percentages of responsibility to the father, mother, child, and society for the abuse and indicated their tendency to report and their level of confidence that abuse was occurring. Results indicated a significant effect for responsibility to the mother which varied as a function of the father's response to the allegation of abuse. Mothers were blamed significantly more for the abuse when the father denied being abusive. Responsibility attribution did not predict reporting, while confidence in the occurrence of abuse did. Also, sex differences were found among participants where male subjects assigned significantly more responsibility to the abusive father than female participants, and the females blamed the mother more than the males. Results are discussed in the context of previous research on responsibility attribution in child abuse.

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Dr. Diane Follingstad had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.

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