Silenced by the surname?: South Asian parents’ perceptions of child sexual abuse disclosure and recantation
Kalher, Ramanjot Kaur
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Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a serious public health concern affecting millions. Identifying such abuse typically requires disclosure from victims—a challenging task considering potential social, familial, and ethnic barriers surrounding disclosure. Since honour, modesty, and shame are pervasive within South Asian communities, familial reputation may trump CSA transgressions. Moreover, given the taboos around sexual matters in the South Asian community, children may face difficulties disclosing their sexual abuse experiences. Using a cross-national survey and hypothetical vignettes, we investigated South Asian and White parents’ perceptions of CSA disclosures and recantations and examined how these relate to the CSA victim’s relationship with the perpetrator. Findings indicate that regardless of ethnic group or perpetrator relationship, parents tended to react with high levels of support following the story child’s disclosure. However, there were differences by ethnic group and perpetrator type following recantation, highlighting the importance of educating parents around various disclosure patterns like recantation.