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Child Abuse By Rohini Nagu and Vardini Kothari Approximately one in six boys is sexually abused before age 16 Conservative estimate of incidents involving physical contact in US and Canada Methodological Issues Research on the Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse Please read this section before reading about or reading studies of child abuse prevalence It will take some time but reading this will help you to understand this research and to think more critically about opinions you encounter in the popular media Five important methodological issues are covered below 1Population from which the research sample is drawn 2Whether or not gate questions are used 3Wording of questions or items especially whether or not the word abuse is used 4Number of questions or items 5Definitions of abuse used to categorize research data Though listed last the definitions of sexual abuse applied by researchers to study data are most important Indeed this is the most complex and controversial methodological issue not only among researchers but in society as a whole And definitions can have decisive effects on prevalence rate findings An important methodological issue has to do with the population group of people from which a sample or selected group of a population actually researched is drawn Different prevalence rates have been found in samples of college students clinical populations or people receiving psychological treatment and community populations or whoever lives in some area eg a city state or country Other methods being equivalent compared to samples of people receiving mental health treatment broad community samples will yield lower prevalence rates and provide more accurate data about the rate of child sexual abuse in a society Here are two examples of questionnaire items employing behavioral descriptions and follow-up questions Both are from research on the sexual abuse of males conducted by David Lisak and his colleagues Lisak Luster 1994 Lisak Hopper Song
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