This book represents a significant contribution to the highly contested debate surrounding how allegations of child sexual abuse should be evaluated. Despite decades of substantial research in this sensitive area, professional consensus remains elusive. A particular source of contention is the sensitivity vs. specificity debate; whether evaluators should give priority to reducing the number of true allegations that are labelled false or to reducing the number of false allegations that are labelled true.
This edited collection aims to address directly and offer new insights into this debate. It responds directly to Kuehnle and Connell's edited volume, The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessment and Testimony (2009), which included chapters which advocated strong specificity positions at the expense of sensitivity. The chapters in this collection feature both challenges to, and replies by, the authors in Kuehnle and Connell's book, making this an essential resource that moves the debate forward.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse.
Table of Contents
Preface Section 1: Balancing Sensitivity and Specificity in Evaluation of Sexual Abuse 1. Contested Issues in the Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: Why Consensus on Best Practice Remains Elusive Kathleen Coulborn Faller and Mark D. Everson 2. Interviewing Children Versus Tossing Coins: Accurately Assessing the Diagnosticity of Children’s Disclosures of Abuse Thomas D. Lyon, Elizabeth C. Ahern, and Nicholas Scurich 3. Reliability of Professional Judgments in Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Evaluations: Unsettled or Unsettling Science? Mark D. Everson, José Miguel Sandoval, Nancy Berson, Mary Crowson, and Harriet Robinson 4. Mental Health Professionals in Children’s Advocacy Centers: Is There Role Conflict? Theodore P. Cross, Janet E. Fine, Lisa M. Jones, and Wendy A. Walsh 5. Base Rates, Multiple Indicators, and Comprehensive Forensic Evaluations: Why Sexualized Behavior Still Counts in Assessments of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations Mark D. Everson and Kathleen Coulborn Faller 6. A Call for Field-Relevant Research about Child Forensic Interviewing for Child Protection Erna Olafson Section 2: Commentaries and Responses 7. "Nobody’s Perfect"—Partial Disagreement with Herman, Faust, Bridges, and Ahern John E. B. Myers 8. Comment on Cross, Fine, Jones, and Walsh (2012): Do Mental Health Professionals Who Serve on/with Child Advocacy Centers Experience Role Conflict? Colleen Friend 9. Comment on Cross, Fine, Jones, and Walsh (2012): We Are Now on the Same Page Seth L. Goldstein 10. Comment on Cross, Fine, Jones, and Walsh (2012): Good Therapeutic Services—Therapeutic Advocacy and Forensic Neutrality Mary Connell 11. A Response to Commentary on Faust, Bridges, and Ahern’s (2009) "Methods for the Identification of Sexually Abused Children" David C. Ahern, Ana J. Bridges, and David Faust 12. What Poole and Wolfe (2009) Actually Said: A Comment on Everson and Faller (2012) Debra Ann Poole
Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., D.C.S.W., is Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor of Children and Families, University of Michigan, USA, and Director of the Family Assessment Clinic, which evaluates, treats, and provides case record reviews on complex child welfare and sexual abuse cases. She is author of nine books and over 90 research and clinical articles.
Mark D. Everson, PhD is Professor and Director of Program on Childhood Trauma and Maltreatment, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. His career has focused on improving the reliability and accuracy of forensic assessments of alleged child abuse.