Child Advocacy Center intervention with sibling sexual abuse cases: Cross-cultural comparison of professionals’ perspectives and experiences

Article by: Dafna Tener (a,b); Abbie Newman (c); Peter Yates (d); and Noam Tarshish (a)
a: The Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel
b: The Haruv Institute, Jerusalem, Israel
c: Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, Montgomery County, PA, United States
d: Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Background: Despite being a complex phenomenon with potentially significant short- and long-term consequences for all involved including siblings, parents and the family as a whole, sibling sexual abuse (SSA) has not received sufficient empirical and clinical attention. Practitioners are often left to cope without appropriate guidance.

Objective: This study aimed to compare staff perspectives and experiences of working with sibling sexual abuse cases across two Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) within different countries and different cultural and legal contexts.

Participants and Setting: Participants were staff members from two Child Advocacy Centers: one in Jerusalem, Israel, and the other in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Methods: This qualitative cross-cultural comparative study analyzes staff experiences of sibling sexual abuse cases based upon 14 focus groups, in Jerusalem (N=7) and Montgomery County (N=7).

Results: Findings reveal that both CACs focused on parents, the parents’ negative emotional responses to SSA, and the impossible nature of their predicament. The Montgomery County CAC tended to emphasize the needs of the victim while being attuned to the legal proceedings, whereas the Jerusalem CAC emphasized supportive therapeutic responses for the whole family.

Conclusions: The differences across the two Child Advocacy Centers are related to the different legal and cultural contexts of the two CACs and underscore the need to review what may be the most appropriate policy and practice response to SSA that does not itself cause further harm.


Published by

Michelle McDyre

21 Nov 2019

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