BELIEFS OF HELPING PROFESSIONALS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE ASSESSMENT
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Child sexual abuse (CSA) is one of the most serious socio-pathological phenomena. However, its identification is challenging and linked to the risk of false positive and false negative conclusions, with far-reaching consequences for the lives of those affected. Incorrect assessments of suspected CSA cases can be made not only by lay people, but also by helping professionals who gather and evaluate information, consider further procedures and make decisions. The aim of the presented review study is to summarize current scientific knowledge that answers two key questions. (1) what contributes to errors in the assessment of relevant cases; and (2) how these errors can be prevented. Previous research has shown that personal beliefs significantly influence the processes by which individuals search for, store, and interpret relevant information (Kahneman et al., 1982). For the purposes of this study, databases of scientific publications were primarily searched for research papers that mapped the beliefs of helping professionals in relation to CSA, as well as papers on strategies to reduce errors in the assessment processes of relevant cases. We identified three significant groups of beliefs that could lead to misjudgments of suspected CSA cases: (1) Misconceptions about CSA, (2) Beliefs related to the implications of the case assessment and (3) Beliefs about one's own objectivity and expertise.
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