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Parents’ opinions – view of their child´s experiences in the legal process: An interpretative analysis of parents’ opinions
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Local Health Care Services in Central Östergötland, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Nursing Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1588-135X
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to demonstrate how parents of children, who are victims of sexual assault, experience the legal process, seen from the child’s, as well as the parents’ perspective. Nine parents identified in the records of three public prosecution offices in three cities in Sweden, were interviewed. The parents described feelings of shame and guilt over what their children had experienced. They felt stigmatized and had difficulty fulfilling their parental role; perceived a lack of information and support from the professionals involved; experienced a sense of withdrawal from their role as parents, even though they felt the professionals who worked with their children were helpful and influential.

Keyword [en]
Child sexual abuse, legal process, parents opinions
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-85550OAI: diva2:571563
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-23 Last updated: 2014-06-11
In thesis
1. The Legal Process in Child Sexual Abuse: Difficulties in confirming evidence and providing support
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Legal Process in Child Sexual Abuse: Difficulties in confirming evidence and providing support
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall purpose of this thesis was to study the situation of such children in the legal process. In depth-interviews were carried out on ten children aged 8-18 years old. The interviews focused on the children´s experiences and perceptions of meeting with various professionals in the legal process. In-depth interviews were also conducted with nine parents of children who had been sexually abused and who had entered into a legal process. Parents described how they experienced the situation for their children as victims, but also their experiences as parents whose children participated in a legal process. Seven prosecutors with experience of cases where children were plaintiffs were also interviewed in this study.

The interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). This is an appropriate method to explore the participants´ life-world/personal-world and the individuals´ personal perceptions of objects or events, as opposed to an attempt to produce an objective account. In the first study (study I) on the children, five major themes emerged through the analysis: not being believed, making child sexual abuse visible, need for support, sanctions for offenders and lack of respect for the child´s integrity. Almost all of the children had a feeling of not being believed.

In the study (study II) on the parents, three superordinate themes emerged from an analysis of the data: stigmatization, need for support in the parental role and transforming consequences to reality.

Three themes emerged from prosecutors study (study III) difficulties with the evidence of crime, children´s special needs and children´s dependence on adults. The informants´ descriptions of how they perceived the children in the legal process were associated with their experience of the difficulty of finding proof of the crime.

The aim of study IV was to identify and describe the obstacles that can prevent children from talking about sexual abuse in a police interview. Data consisted of 28 investigative interviews with children and 12 police interrogations with non-offending parents. Data interpretation and analysis were based on content analysis. The following categories were identified: not being believed/telling the truth, need for support and dependence on adults, guilt and shame, fear and difficulty in spatial and temporal characterization.

The main conclusion of the thesis is that there are difficulties in confirming evidence when children who have suffered sexual abuse are involved in a legal process. It is also concluded that there is an absence of models with the aim to support children and parents going through the process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. 46 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1338
Child sexual abuse, legal process
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-85553 (URN)978-­91-­7519-­772-­2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-12-07, Berzeliussalen, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-23 Last updated: 2015-06-05Bibliographically approved

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