Social workers' attribution of responsibility for child sexual abuse

Date of Completion

January 2007


Social Work




The purpose of the study is to investigate responsibility attribution by social workers for child sexual abuse. Licensed social workers in one state were surveyed using case vignettes. Practitioner variables examined for possible correlation with social workers' attributions of responsibility include: age; gender; ethnicity; income; highest degree; years of clinical experience; primary theoretical orientation; primary practice location; primary social work role; history of treating individuals with histories of child sexual abuse; and the individual's history of child sexual abuse reporting. Four independent variables were manipulated experimentally: victim age; victim gender; presence of sexual behavior in the victim; and, whether or not the victim disclosed the abuse to the social worker. The dependent measures were the subject's assignment of responsibility to various family members, including the victim, both for the abuse and for stopping the abuse; the social worker's confidence in the case being a case of child sexual abuse; and the social worker's likelihood of reporting the case as a case of child sexual abuse. ^